Celebrating How Girls Around the World are Conquering their Back to School Challenges

This month many students around the world started their school year in an unprecedented way, online in their homes. Through our “Back to School” Challenge, we invited them to capture what exactly that looked like. Girls from 44 countries around the world, from the Bahamas to Belarus and Pakistan to the Philippines, shared ways they are conquering the heightened obstacles of this time and continuing to persevere. 

We learned that their experiences truly do reflect what we read and understand about expectations placed on women and girls. During the pandemic, women and girls globally are expected to do three times as much unpaid care work for their families and communities. Meanwhile, they’re more likely than men to have informal or low-paying jobs that are at risk of disappearing, and school-aged girls are less likely to have access to education. Still, we continue to see resilient messages of strength, leadership, and adaptability. 

Meet the Winners

The following young women are the winners of the “Back to School” Challenge. The grand prize winner received a $1,000 scholarship and the two runners up each received a $500 scholarship. Out of over 170 submissions, we want to share these three winning messages of triumph with you.


Debrah, Philippines: “I may not be as privileged as the other kids who have everything they need for classes, but I am privileged enough to keep going and pursue my education. I have a place to learn, a phone, and support system of family, friends, and professors.”

Sierra, Bahamas: “The lifestyle I enjoy today is built on my mom’s educational achievements. The members of my family are lifelong learners and I am no exception, as I prepare for my last year of high school and begin the first steps to building a successful career. Education helps you to have your voice heard and I intend to live up to my last name and Blair!”


Alina, Belarus: “I got hungry to get educated in a place where everyone has their own unique story. More importantly, I got inspired to document and share mine. Today I gave myself permission to embrace who I truly am and live in my full potential.”




Watch as the “Back to School” Challenge winners react to the news their videos won awards for this contest.


As we continue to work through the adjustments we are all making due to the coronavirus pandemic, let’s keep trying in small ways to take care of each other, especially girls who will go on to change the world!

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