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Girls’ Voices for Change Contest, Meet the Winners Series, Pt. I – Big Idea Prize

Girls voices participant in Kolkata, India, creating her project for the Girls’ Voices for Change Contest

Post by Patricia Cogley, GreaterGood.org 

“It’s important for girls to bring things from inside to the outside,”stated Walaa, 17-year-old from Zaatari unnerefugee Camp, Jordan. Runner-up for the Big Idea Prize, Girls’ Voices for Change.

Our Girls’ Voices program inspires girls to bring their thoughts, their challenges, and their ideas for a brighter future from the inside to the outside through digital media. The GreaterGood.org donor community then contributes to their future through our Girls’ Voices scholarship fund. So far – through your support – we have awarded 111 scholarships to girls from nine countries!

To amplify our girls’ creativity and continue to fundraise for their education, we launched the Girls Voices For Change Contest this spring. Starting March 8 – from the Caribbean island of Bonaire, to the streets of Kathmandu, to a refugee camp in Jordan, girls engaged in discussion, generated solutions, and picked up cameras to share their ideas with us. A panel of judges and the public (YOU!) selected the winners, and this week we are so proud to introduce you to each of them, starting with the Big Idea Prize!

For the Big Idea Prize, we challenged Girls’ Voices participants to come up with a concept that could help end gender disparity in education, and to convince us of their idea with a compelling video. The winner would receive a $1,000 grant to implement their project. For many of the girls, it was the first time sharing their hearts with a global audience – for others, it was an opportunity to focus their creativity on the issue of gender disparity in education and their ideas for making the world a better place.

Get inspired by the passion these three winners have for making the world a better place, and help secure a future for each of the creators by donating to her education.

Introducing the Winner and Runners-Up for the Big Idea Prize!

Marie Sintiago, a 14-year-old high school student from Bonaire won first place in the Big Idea Prize with More Girls in Engineering.  According to Marie, “A prejudiced society places a lot of limitations on girls, like making them believe they can’t pursue engineering.” Marie’s idea is to encourage more girls to pursue engineering on her island, through job fairs, promotional videos, and a partnership with the vocational school. Marie studies engineering at school, and because so few girls are enrolled in engineering, she is seen as a role model by the teachers.

“I feel really awesome to have won the Big Idea award. I did not expect it. This award really stimulates me to do well at school and also encourage other girls to pursue a career in engineering, because girls can excel in engineering too.” Marie’s video is an excellent start at inspiring girls to think about career options, and we can’t wait to see Marie’s project come to life! Marie will receive a $1,000 grant to implement her project idea and receive mentorship support from a social entrepreneur. You can be a part of Marie’s solution by contributing to her education here.

Priya, a 17-year-old high school student in Kolkata, India, inspired us all with her video “Safety Net.” In this short compelling piece, Priya shows how street harassment prevents girls from going to tutoring centers, a necessity to prepare for final exams. Her solution is to train both boys and girls in protecting girls and preventing harassment. Her piece shows a gorgeous choreography of young people in the streets of Kolkata literally creating a net of safety and support for girls.

Priya says, “Education not only widens our horizon of knowledge but also provides required exposure, which is essential. However, due to such incidents of eve teasing and taunting, many girls are forced to quit their studies. Through Girls’ Voices, this film will make the people to introspect their behavior and actions.” Priya is a member of Kolkata’s youth organization Prayasam, and as a runner-up winner she will receive $250 to start her project idea. You can contribute to Priya’s education and project here.

Runner-up prize winner Walaa poetically showcases the role of resilience in her piece “The Changing Element.” Walaa recognizes that Syrian children face compounded barriers to their education, including intense psycho-social challenges. She hopes to inspire other children to continue to have faith in order to continue their education. Her project idea is to teach younger girls filmmaking, so that they can build the confidence to return to school and imagine a better future. We know that Walaa is a tour de force, and that she will continue to inspire others around her. Walaa will receive a $250 prize, and you can continue to contribute to her education and project idea here.

Thank you to our panel of judges who watched each piece and determined the Big Idea winners. Award-winning photographer Seth Casteel wrote, “I was uniquely impressed and affected by each message!” We hope you are too! You can see the additional finalists here, and support their future by donating to the Girls’ Voices Scholarship fund!