This years theme for the International Day of the Girl is “With Her: A Skilled Girl Force”. It aims to inspire other girls and young women to rise against fences built around them by society and to innovate themselves for a better future.
In this article we focus on a young advocate who rose above her oppressed situation despite her refugee status and her bullies.
At 3 years old she was forced to leave her home, she had to leave her education, she had to leave everything she and her family had. And yet, she stood strong, she raised her voice and she created a brighter future than her past.
This is the story of Taffan Ako. She escaped the civil war in Iraqi Kurdistan with her mother and sister. They hid in trucks and sailed dangerous seas to find refuge in Sweden. Since then, this young woman has dedicated her life to speaking up and advocating for oppressed women in her old community, Kurdistan.
“I learned Swedish before I learned Kurdish. I grew up with democratic values and knew my rights. But at school, the kids bullied me. They said, you’re a refugee, you’re stateless” says Taffan.
Because of the challenges she’s had to face, she decided to help others overcome extreme gender bias and abuse. She empowers and assists women and young girls who have been former ISIS sex slaves or victims of human trafficking. She does this through her youth empowerment association and founded EmpowHERment.
Today over 1.1 billion girls are standing up against the status quo and redefining girlhood. Girls stand against the odds, they face adversities that hinder from education, training and entry into the workforce.
Unfortunately a quarter of young people, most of them girls, are deprived of education and adequate workforce training which makes them a target for workplace abuse, exploitation, unfair wages and in even unemployment.
If we continue empowering girls and young women, we could put a halt to this. We may not be able to stop it immediately around the world, but if we are able support at least one girl, it will make a difference to her world.
Written by: Caroline Martinez