Celebrating girls’ and women’s leadership
Investing in young women’s leadership for a better world was the theme of this year’s Week of the Girl in Togo. With support from the inaugural award from the Karen Takacs Women’s Leadership Fund, Crossroads International’s partner Groupe de réflexion et d’action Femme, Démocratie et Développement (GF2D) organized three days of conferences and workshops to help young girls and women develop their self-esteem, their self-confidence and their leadership skills and entrepreneurial spirit.
“The Week of the Girl made me take a new step in my life thanks to its motto: “I’m young! I’m a leader! I’m engaged for a better world!” said Marie-Jeanne Noudjilelem, a law student participating in the program. In Victoria Ada’s case, this event helped with her self-confidence: “Before, I was afraid of talking in front of an audience. I felt I was unable to express myself, to control my feelings and manage my stress in front of people. This experience made me more determined to fight to succeed and become a leader.”
Women and girls in Togo are facing numerous challenges — physical abuse, sexual violence, HIV/AIDS, gender inequality and poverty. Almost a third of women aged 15 to 49 were married before they turned 18 and 63% of girls aged 9 to 19 have experienced violence. GF2D launched the Week of the Girl as part of its work with girls and women to overcome obstacles and to ensure women and girls’ empowerment and gender equality in Togo. “We want to provide solutions to these obstacles that prevent girls to be fulfilled and to progress in school,” GF2D Assistant Secretary General, Pierrette d’Almeida explained.
This event was made possible thanks to the Karen Takacs Women’s Fund which was created by Crossroads International’s Board of Directors in 2015 to celebrate Karen Takacs’ leadership during her 12 years as Executive Director and honour her legacy after her untimely death in August 2015. The fund provides vital financial support to African organizations whose work advances women’s leadership and equality for women and girls and educational scholarships to emerging African women leaders.