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International Women's Day: Christa's Story
On this International Women's Day, what inspires me and gives me hope is our work to empower girls like Christa, a fourth-grader in Bugarama, Tanzania. In a class of 220 students, Christa was a shy girl who never asked a question even if there was something she didn't understand. She made average marks on exams.
However, when Christa was 10, she was among the first group of girls trained in leadership skills and peer mentoring through CARE's girls' leadership development projects. The projects aimed to assist girls to develop the specific leadership competencies of self-confidence, voicing ideas and opinions, making decisions, organization, and motivating others.
After the training, Christa was assigned to lead a group of 40 fellow students in developing leadership skills through sports and games. The group included boys, some of them older than her.
Christa really doubted whether she could do it. She said that before the training she was just like other girls with no confidence, and not able to make decisions for herself. However, as days passed by Christa gained more confidence and made great strides in leading her group.
Christa's new-found confidence has shown in the classroom as well. Now she is able to ask teachers about anything which is not clear to her. With a smile on her face Christa recounted "by doing so I made myself the number one pupil in the class of 220 pupils including boys and girls!"
Christa was encouraged by her peers to run for the position of chairperson to lead a discussion between the girl students and leaders from the local government council (WDC).
"We were 8 contestants but because of the leadership skills I acquired from the training and from participation in sports I won the position and led the meeting between girls and leaders from WDC," Christa beamed.
She lead the meeting with confidence, and at the end of the meeting Christa remembers that one village chairperson confessed that he has never managed meetings as successfully as Christa had.
Christa is now a confident sixth grader who has her eyes set on secondary school and has goals for her future, which include helping other girls to develop the confidence and voice that she has found.