My name is Amonge Sinxoto, 18, co-founder of a youth non-profit called Blackboard Africa, empowering the youth of the African continent through leadership training and mentorship. Her name is Meron Washington, 16, Ethiopian American, creator of Every girl wears a crown coloring and activities book to instill self-pride in little black girls. Her name is Amariyanna Copeny, 12, also known as Little Miss Flint, a youth activist at the forefront of innovation to combat the Flint, Michigan water crisis. Her name is Greta Thunberg, 16, a coordinator of the school strike for the climate movement and youth activist calling for immediate action regarding climate change. Her name is Trinity Simone, 16, the founder of The Youth Will Be All Write, which highlights the issues that incarcerated youth face while amplifying young voices in the process. Her name is Emma Gonzalez,19, an activist using her voice to coordinate and amplify the outcry for gun reform in the United States. I could go on like this for centuries.
the International Day of the Girl Child, the theme for 2019 is “GirlForce: Unscripted and Unstoppable”. This got me thinking about what a GirlForce really is. Although I tried to find a short answer to share with you, I failed because the answer to this question is much more than a single statement.
A GirlForce, is a team, a unit and an army of women fighting for a present reality that is safer, smarter, more equal and better equipped to give future generations the world they deserve. GirlForce is the establishment of girls and women alike, across all corners of the world who despite the towering problems before them, rise up and are pioneering solutions. Today the GirlForce is stopping child marriages, promoting girls’ education, standing up against gender-based violence, demanding action on climate change and standing up for women’s’ rights. This is what it means to be unscripted and unstoppable.
The reality is that we aren’t the first generation of this GirlForce, which got us as Blackboard Africa thinking about the shoulders of sacrifice and struggle that we now stand on.
This was when it all became clear. What better way is there to celebrate the rise of the GirlForce than to honor its lineage and roots? Blackboard Africa has decided to honor some of the legends and icons that have opened all the doors and opportunities that they possibly could for the incredible force that is not far behind. Our chosen medium of expression for this is fashion. We in collaboration with the incredible artist Masonwabe Ntloko have created illustration interpretations of a few of the women we wish to celebrate at this time. We want to remind the GirlForce of the power that they possess to change the status quo. We want this GirlForce to be unapologetically loud and proud. We want it to speak volumes in rooms that our GirlForce haven’t said a word in. We want to use this time to exclaim our appreciation for the contribution that these women have made to each of their industries and for our society at large. We wish to show where we are from in a way that clearly expresses what we are capable of disrupting. We thank these women for their lessons.
Mam’ Winnie “Strike the women, and you strike the rock” Thank you for teaching us resilience, for living it and making it known to the world that the GirlForce is powerful and ready to do what it takes to ensure our future. Mam’ Miriam, “I don’t sing politics, I merely sing the truth” We thank you for teaching us to use our platform to speak our truth no matter who’s watching or listening.
Mam’ Brenda Fassie “I don’t dream of things, I think of things and I plan.” Thank you for teaching us dedication, commitment, and that hard work will take us higher than we could have ever imagined.
Mam’ Ester Mahlangu “I don’t want my culture to die out. I want it to live on and my children to know so that they can teach their children one day.” Thank you for teaching us the necessity of preserving our culture and heritage as well as being at the forefront of sharing it with the world. May our GirlForce grow stronger. May our GirlGang grow wider. May our impact reach further.