To celebrate International Day of the Girl this year, Chelsea Clinton reflects on six girls she's met through the Clinton Foundation and Clinton Global Initiative, and how they've inspired her. Join the conversation today about empowering girls on social media by using the hashtag #IDG2013.
Kimberly, an 11-year-old girl, shared her story at the Embrace Tomorrow conversation my father and I hosted with the Nelson Mandela Foundation this summer in South Africa, while we were visiting Clinton Foundation projects across the continent. Kimberly is the founder of the nonprofit, The Hand That Gives, and travels between provinces in South Africa to educate girls about HIV/AIDS, hygiene, the use of sanitary pads, and the importance of education. Kimberly spoke clearly and concisely, and with great confidence. Her determination in empowering young girls in South Africa is incredible and I look forward to seeing what she continues to do in her future to educate even more girls and women.
I met Srey in Cambodia in May, at the Mary Knoll orphanage where she lives. Srey was one of the first HIV-positive children in Cambodia to receive antiretroviral treatment as a result of the Clinton Health Access Initiative's (CHAI) work with the government to help increase access to HIV/AIDS treatment. When CHAI began working in Cambodia in 2005, only 6,000 patients – including 400 children – were receiving the treatment and care they needed – Srey being one of them. Today, Cambodia is one of the first countries in the world to achieve universal access to ARV treatment for both adults and children. Srey's strength in the face of her circumstances continues to inspire me.
I had the privilege of being on a panel with Peggy Mativo at this year’s CGI Annual Meeting. This wasn’t Peggy’s first time working with the Clinton Foundation; nor was it even her most impressive work with us. Peggy, who is an undergraduate student at Harvard University, committed to work to open access to education in Africa at the 2012 CGI University, and moved to Kenya last year to begin her work. Her organization, PACE (Promoting Access to Community Education), has partnered with two schools to connect them with volunteers, helping 3,400 kids receive a better education.
At 12 years old, Haile is nothing less than full of energy and inspiration. As an Alliance for a Healthier Generation Youth Advisory Board member – one of the only youth-led advisory groups in the country focused on childhood obesity issues – Haile has gone above and beyond to educate and inspire her family, peers, and community on how to eat and live healthier. Last January at the Foundation's Health Matters conference, Haile was the framing speaker on the final panel, Living Healthy, where she discussed several projects and programs she's created and implemented, all focused on helping kids better understand the importance of cooking and living a healthy lifestyle. Haile also created the Healthy Girls Adventure Club - an online club for girls to educate, inspire, and motivate one another to embrace healthy habits. I spent time with Haile this week on The Rachael Ray Show, where we cooked a healthy dessert together. Haile's energy and enthusiasm for educating others on how to live healthy is contagious.
Yaweta Chavula and Laiba Shahzadi were two confident, young girls I met at this years Clinton Global Initiative Annual Meeting. Yaweta, 15 years old from Malawi, and Laiba, 16 years old from Pakistan, spoke on behalf of the Nike Foundation and joined me on stage to announce the Nike Foundation's new Commitment to Action, The Girl Declaration. The confidence and poise with which both Yaweta and Laiba spoke was uplifting, and makes me proud that the Clinton Foundation and Clinton Global Initiative are bringing organizations and leaders together to help provide the same empowerment that these girls felt on stage to girls around the world.
Main photo: Chelsea Clinton talks with young girls at the City Year Service Project in South Africa on August 9, 2013. Through a Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) commitment, City Year is engaging young South Africans in a year of full-time citizen service with Together Action Group, an organization working to reduce poverty, crime, and drug-related problems in schools.