A Little Woman

On March 8 every year, the world celebrates women. It is also a day for the world to reflect on ways to take action in promoting gender balance and creating an environment where women and girls are able to use their potential to create solutions for themselves and for the society.

At Faces2Hearts, we are celebrating the very day, and on that occasion, we were challenged to tell a story of a woman who has marked our journey. This was a tough challenge for me, since from the time I started this journey, I have met amazing women who are taking actions in their homes and their communities to make life better, women with a strong and committed heart.

But even though I would like to talk about each of these stories, there is one that touched me the most. One of a little woman.

Kuyo Grâce Olivia is just 11 years old, and currently stays in Cavoequiva centre in Abidjan Ivory Coast, a centre that hosts little girls who have been physically or sexually exploited/harassed at a young age. This centre is funded by the European Union, through Save The Children, as a partner.

“...Then my Dad sent me to Burkina Faso to stay with one his sisters. I stayed there for 2 years, never going to school. He afterwards brought me back to Ivory Coast and took me to his second wife to stay there. She mistreated me so badly that she often beat me up, and her son did the same too. I later on decided to escape…”

“When I got here, Uncle N’Diouf assured me that I was safe here, that I was now part of a big family. I really feel good here. I learn to read and write, I learn to sing and draw.”

Girls here are also taught about their rights

Grâce took me through her hard experience at such a young age, and I have to admit that it was hard to even imagine what she might have endured. But she still is a remarkable little girl. She already ranks the best in her reading & writing classes. At some point, I was curious to hear what her dream is. “ I want to become a doctor when I grow up” – she told me with a big smile. I could read from her eyes how she believes in her dream and is excited that one day she definitely might realise it.

For me, Grâce represents girls who, due to different social or cultural situation, are denied their primary rights as humans, but are also denied a chance to grow up to become women that the society needs, mothers that families need. But she also is a sign of hope that institutions like European Union and its partners are taking initiatives like this as a solution to restore an environment that ensures that girls and women who have endured violence and harassment are given back their rights. Time is up for women and girls' rights violation.


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