Mighty Girl Kimleang travels Taiwan as Girl Ambassador for Cambodia

17-year-old Kimleang from our Mighty Girls Programme made it into the finals of the Asian Girls Rights Awards and received the opportunity to promote girls rights across the island of Taiwan. The young Cambodian was accompanied by a Nepalese and Indian girl who had also been selected as Girl Ambassadors by the Garden of Hope Foundation out of 60 applications from all over Asia. Together, the girls travelled across Taiwan to educate their peers about gender equality and the role education and sports can have in empowering women and young girls. They had been invited to join the celebrations of Taiwan Girls Day on October 11th which corresponds to the International Day of the Girl Child of the United Nations.

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In the run up to this event, the three girls visited schools and other institutions throughout Taiwan to discuss the situation of girls in their own countries and Taiwan with youth and adults alike. In between, Kimleang also promoted girl empowerment and described her own life and dreams in interviews she gave in English to a Taiwanese radio station and a magazine – after only three years of learning this language. She is proud of the path she took to get to where she is today: “Before I was just a normal girl that lives in the community, not brave enough, always shy, all the time. But when I joined the Mighty Girls Programme at SALT Academy they all encouraged me to learn about equal rights, life skills, especially sports, because it makes me proud and I can speak in front of people.”

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And this is what she did on various occasions throughout her busy five day ambassadorial trip all over Taiwan. On her first evening, she received an award by the Garden of Hope Foundation in the framework of the New Taipei City Award Ceremony. In her speech to a crowd of 100 young high school girls from the region, she highlighted the special role sports can play in empowering young girls. Taking her own example, she described how soccer empowered her who, three years after joining the Mighty Girls Programme, today teaches English, life skills, and soccer to younger girls at SALT Academy.

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Her own career also triggered off a vivid discussion at St. Dominic Catholic High School in southern Taiwanese Kaohsiung District where she joined the Girls Day Celebrations a day later. Growing up with four siblings in a poor family, she would have never imagined obtaining higher education or playing soccer as a girl, let alone to become a role model for younger girls at home or abroad. In Cambodia, it is common for poor girls to quit school before grade nine, then get married soon after and take care of the family, while working on farms or factories all day long. Kimleang explained to the high school boys and girls how SALT Academy made her engage in sports, continue school, and how this changed her whole life and perspective of the future. Today, she plans to go into politics in order to improve the situation of girls in her country. She also moderated the debate to make the boys and girls think of different ways to improve gender equality in their own country.

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Kimleang’s trip to Asia also gave her the opportunity to meet her role models. She visited Kaohsiung’s Women Center where she held a speech about gender equality and was invited for lunch with business women from the region. Also, she participated in a meet and greet with Kaohsiung’s first ever elected female mayor.

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Back in Taipei, Kimleang continued her work as Girl Ambassador by speaking at the event “Across Boundaries” at the Tsai Jui-Yueh Dance Research Institute. There she promoted the idea of girls doing sports and told the young students about her own experiences as a female soccer player in Cambodia. “Sports are traditionally regarded as a domain for boys in my country,” she explained, “Girls are seen as ugly when being muscular and sun-tanned.” However, through the work of SALT Academy this perception is changing bit by bit, and she is happy to tell, “Because people see that we receive a good education, learn about life skills, human hygiene and protection from HIV/AIDS and we become leaders who also change the life of our communities as we forward our new knowledge and skills to them.”

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During a “Girl Friendly City Gathering” in Taipei the same day, Kimleang also shared her visions of a girl-friendly city. “I dream of a city where girls feel safe walking alone at night, where boys and girls have equal opportunities for higher education and are both allowed to do sports and are not pushed off the fields,” she said during the parade, urging politicians to help make this dream come true for the participating girls.

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On October 11th, Taiwan’s National Day, Kimleang participated in a cultural tour of the city and learned about Taiwan’s rich past and present. Late that day, the three Girl Ambassadors were invited by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs for the 103rd National Day Reception at the Taipei Guest House. Kimleang was overwhelmed by the look of the manor house in which the reception took place and – also – being able to walk on the red carpet to the reception while receiving special treatment as a V.I.P.! “The costumes of the opera singers, the traditional clothing and the ice sculptures were marvellous!” she still raved.

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The last day of her exciting job as Girl Ambassador, Kimleang participated in a Gender Camp at Garden of Hope Headquarters in Taipei and shared her experiences at SALT Academy. Despite the general perception of sports as a male domain, she, as a young Cambodian woman plays soccer in the Academy’s Mighty Girls Team while coaching two younger teams. SALT Academy enabled her to develop her leadership and teaching skills and provided her with knowledge on setting goals, health or the dangers of drug abuse and human trafficking. The Mighty Girl Kimleang set herself a high goal in life: “I do not want to learn it all for myself. I want to share it with all the boys and girls in my country and also other countries because my country is not rich, so especially in the countryside they know nothing about how to protect yourself from HIV, hygiene issues and so on. I want them to know.”

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The culminating event of Kimleang’s stay in Taiwan was the ceremony of the 12th Formosan Girls Awards and the 2nd Asian Girls Award. She was a finalist herself, although the award was given to Ishity Uppal from India, who fights against female infanticide.

During the ceremony, Kimleang first joined the Taiwanese group “GirlBeHeard”, which had accompanied the three Girl Ambassadors throughout the week, in their final performance for gender equality and female rights on the stage. Afterwards, she gave the audience a short insight into Cambodian culture through a traditional Khmer dance as her one last act as an Ambassador for Cambodia before flying back home early in the morning of October 12th.

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Kimleang is grateful for this opportunity of promoting women empowerment as a Girl Ambassador: “I am now much braver in talking in front of large groups of people and I feel well prepared to push for women’s rights and help empower girls to overcome the challenges they still face so often in our countries. I want boys and girls to realize that together, they have an important role in working towards gender equality. I really think our generation can make a huge difference here.”

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Justice Surya Kant joined IYPF international delegates & hundreds of NSS Volunteers came on Chandigarh Road to Promote Rights & Dignity of Girls & Women

Chandigarh, October 1(The eve of Gandhi Jayant): To promote ‘Rights & Dignity of Girls & Women’ around the world, hundreds of NSS Volunteers of Chandigarh and the international delegates of the 9th International Youth Peace Fest came together and made a 7km-long ‘Human Chain & Candle Light Vigil’, from main gate of PGI to Press chowk, Sector 18 and to all four sides of Sector 17. Over 5,000 local School/College students and international youth from 32 countries, led by Pramod Sharma (Coordinator), Yuvsatta, Bikram Sing Rana (State Liaison Officer, State Cell-NSS), Chandigarh & Anthony Carlisle (International Affairs Supervisor of Garden of Hope Foundation, Taiwan- An organization promoting rights of girls in Asia) became part of an historic effort in Chandigarh.

Justice Surya Kant (Judge, Punjab & Haryana High Court) also joined and inspired the participants at entrance of Rose Garden towards Sector 17. To express their cause to end violence against women, & thr  promotion of their rights & dignity, some of the placards which participants were carrying included slogans like ‘Empower Women & Empower World, ‘No more silence’, ‘We demand a rape-free society’ and ‘May every place be safe for women’, Educate Women & Educate World etc. American Gandhi Bernie Meyer also marked his presence on the occasion.

 Mr. Justice Surya Kant, Amrican Gandhi & others at Human Chain iHuman Chain opp Rock Garden iii

NSS Volunteers from almost all Colleges of the city participated in the initiative from PGI Nursing College, NSS Unit of PU,PGGC-11, PGGCG-11, Govt. Polytechnic College, Home Science College, DAV 10, SGGS College, GGS College for Women, GGS College of Pharmacy-26, MCM DAV College, DAV Sr. Sec. School, Lahore, Sector 8, PGGC for Women-42, PEC, College of Education, Sector 20, PGGC 46 & Dev Samaj College of Education, Chandigarh.

 

Expressing his view Justice Surya Kant shared that the participants should vow to never be violent against any woman or girl, to raise their voices against all domestic and sexual violence, to report and seek help and support for all acts of violence against women and to treat all acts of violence against women as a violation of human rights.

‘The reason for choosing the eve of Gandhi Jayanti was because Mahatma Gandhi was a strong votary of equal rights for women. In this day and age where women are commoditised, there is an ever increasing need to establish change and show love and respect to women.’. added Pramod Sharma, Coordinator of Yuvsatta-an NGO which in association with State Cell-NSS organized the initiative.

 

In the morning around 30 international participants from over 8 countries participated in a ‘Peace Club  Programme of Carmel Convent School, Chandigarh. Over 400 students of 30 Schools & Colleges joined at ‘Green Art Fest’ & ‘Go Solar Mobile Phone Film Contest’, to promote the 3 R’s of Recycle, Reduce & Refuse, at Botanical Garden, Sarangpur, Chandigarh. Organized by Yuvsatta & Sponsored by Department of Forests & Wildlife, Department of Environment & CREST, Chandigarh Administration, there were 3 contests in which participants were asked to prepare creative art work using waste material, come up with face painting on the theme of Forests & Wildlife, create a logo for Forests Department and make short videos on‘Go Solar Chandigarh’, promoting solar energy in the city using their mobiles.

 Participants of a Green Art Fest with Dignitaries

The results of the ‘Green Art Fest’ were ‘Best out of waste contest’ are:

1st Prize: St. Stephen’s School, 2nd Prize: Tribune Model Sr. Sec. School, 3rd Prize: Bhawan Vidyalaya, Chandigarh.

Face painting: 1st Prize- Mount Carmel School, 2nd Prize-Kundan International School, 3rd Prize- Gurukul Global School.

Logo Designing: 1st prize went to Yashee Agrawal of Government College of Art.

Go Solar Mobile Film Festival: 1st prize or Rs. 10,000 went to Vatsala Vasudeva, MCM College, 2nd Prize to Manvir of St. John’s School & 3rd prize to Varunesh Sharma of Saupin’s School.

Santosh Kumar, Director, Department of Environment, CREST & Conservator of Forests & Wildlife, Chandigarh Administration along with Dr. Markandey Rai, Youth Advisor, UN Habitat and Senorita Issac, Chairperson of Human Achievers Foundation gave prizes to the winners of the contest.

American Gandhi Presenting a Gandhiji sketch to Sr. Swati Maria, Principal, Carmel Convent SchoolInternational Participants at Carmel Convent School Human Chain opp Rock Garden

Important events of last day of IYPF 2014

Thursday, October 2, 2014: Gandhi Jayanti & International Day of Nonviolence

06.30 a.m.-7.15 a.m.:  Cleanliness Drive-all IYPF international delegates along with American Gandhi Mr. Bernie Meyer will clean the ISBT (Inter-state Bus Terminus/Bus Stand of Sector 17)

At GGD SD College, Sector 32C, Chandigarh

10.00 a.m.: PEACE SYMBOL: All 300 international, national & local delegates of IYPF 2014 to form a big 100 feet ‘Peace Symbol’, carrying posters with “PEACE’ written on them in their own language.

11.00 a.m.-01.00 p.m.: Valedictory function and launching of logo of 10th Global Youth Peace Fest (GYPF 2015)

Award Nominee: Manisha Mirzoeva

Name: Manisha Mirzoeva

Organisation: NGO Marifatnoki

Awards/Achievements:

(1) Member of Young Leaders Programme

(2) Volunteer at Marifatnoki

(3) Debate tournament award Recipient

Introduction:

I am Manisha Mirzoeva and I’m 12 this year. Being a leader in class, I try to organize interclass competitions every week for every subject that we study. I am also in the YLP program and am working as volunteer in NGO Marifatnoki. I know Tajik, Russian, Uzbek language and am currently trying to learn English. I want to be an ambassador in the future so that I’ll be able to travel to other countries to learn more about different cultures and traditions while promoting mine.

I have organized two projects in remote villages in Rasht district where 80% of the girls don’t have post-secondary school education. My first project was titled ” 40 jobs are few for one girl”. It stationed girls who don’t study to the sewing center where they were provided with 4 sewing machines. They eventually learned how to make dresses and made lots of traditional national dresses. This brought them a lot of benefits. My second project was titled “Involving girls in sport”. I organized games between the girls from the Young Leaders program and those from remote school #60. They were equipped with sport uniforms, balls and sport equipment to play in the volleyball game that was organized. I also helped them form groups that they could play volleyball games with throughout the country.

From the debate competitions that I have engaged in, I learned things such as public speaking, critical thinking, self-confidence and leadership, negotiation, interviewing, creative and research skills. These debates are relevant as it involved themes such as whether mothers should stay at home to take care of their children, to the rights and freedom of girls and whether women should take the main role in the community with respect to Tajikistan.

In the future, I would like to organize short courses to teach girls about human Rights, democracy in countries, volunteerism and leadership skills, getting them more involved in high schools and the use of new technology. I strongly believe that I can change their mindsets and their lives.