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One year into #GirlsForward, our partnership with UNICEF, discover Natacha Ramsay-Levi’s letter that she wrote to her 15-year-old self. We also asked Rokhaya Ngom, who participated and mentored in Upshift programmes in Senegal, to share a message with girls.

Natacha Ramsay-Levi’s letter to her 15-year-old self

To the 15-year-old girl I once was.

I think about you and I see you alone in your room, thinking about all the things you didn't dare to say or do. I think of you and I remember all the things that stop you from being you, your sometimes too strong opinions about your surroundings, your need to reject things, your need to flee, your desire to escape.

The signs of things that still revolt you today are already there. Injustice, racism, inequality, and those words that you don't always understand burst out of you at those moments when your extreme shyness can no longer stop you from expressing yourself.

You will see, what drives you will take time to show itself in any form other than mockery: no more need to shout nor hide.

There will be places in between. Paradoxical thoughts, some more open, some more subtle, which experiment with possibilities other than the annihilation of your "too bourgeois" world.

There will be a new world to create, a combination of different paths, opinions and lifestyles. You will learn to contradict thoughtfully and not just be "against” and to navigate through sometimes uncertain waters.
You will realise that your ideals of humanity and enchanted otherness, were just an escape mechanism. Your dream of being elsewhere will gradually turn into a more personal, nuanced journey.

You will see, things are constantly moving. Maybe that is why you’ll you go into fashion. To be able to take a grasp on your world and constantly lead it to other horizons.


Rokhaya Ngom

To my dear little sisters,

Who among us feels no fear at the beginning or during any new adventure?

I know that you’re entering a new stage in your life with great trepidation. Everything in you is evolving. You probably have the impression that you can’t control what’s going on. You might also feel a lot of frustration.

Dear sisters, all this is normal. Your emotions and feelings are understandable. I went through the same as you.

In my eyes, you are the perfect representation of an ambitious teenager who, despite the constraints, never gives up. One that overcomes all the barriers, stands up proudly and goes on ahead.

As of today, I would like you to realise that you have value, strength, that will allow yourselves to achieve the change you want. Continue to take the time to appreciate and love yourself. Don't stop believing in yourself! This is the best and most useful skill you can develop. Don’t forget to give yourself all the means necessary to learn while demanding that these resources be given to you.

Be prepared to work hard and without let-up. I know that you are capable of doing so because you have the power within you, you are intelligent, gifted and responsible.

On this International Girl’s Day, I would like to reiterate the admiration I have for each and every one of you, and the women you will become tomorrow.

Continue to use your voice to claim your place in the world. Amplify it and freely choose the future you wish for yourself.

Conquer the world and make your dreams come true. Keep going because you can do it.

Rokhaya NGOM, young woman of 25 years,
My voice, equality for our future
#GenerationEquality #DayOfTheGirl

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