In Cambodia, #GirlsTakeover, contextualised locally as #Me4Me has reached across the entire country.
The phenomenon has even reached places with limited access, providing an ideal opportunity for girls who are often constrained by poverty to access leadership and decision-making roles.
“Girls do have dreams, but very few can live them out due to so many reasons we face every day,” says Sapheat, 18, one of the girls who took part in the takeovers.
Girls do have dreams, but very few can live them out.
Through #Me4Me or #GirlsTakeover, Plan International Cambodia is working with leading figures so they step aside for girls to take charge for a day to raise their voices for equality.
“Six girls in Ratanak Kiri, Tboung Khmum and Siem Reap took charge as police chiefs, directors of health clinics and school principals in 2016,” says Jan Jaap Kleinrensink, Country Director of Plan International Cambodia.
“In Tboung Khmum, Chandeth who dreams of becoming a health centre director and Sreyroth who wants to become a secondary school head teacher are continuing their studies at universities and working towards achieving their ambitions.
“In Siem Reap, Sapheat and Sreyneang completed high school last month. They are preparing themselves for their entrance exams to go to university. The girls at Ratanak Kiri, Chankwi and Phaly have one more year to complete high school.”
In 2017, the initiative became national. Twenty girls from remote Cambodia took over from ministers, university deans, managers of private companies and directors of government and non-government organisations to mark International Day of the Girl on 11 October.
Youth influencer and Plan International Cambodia honorary ambassador VJ Nana inspired the girls taking part in the takeovers by saying, “Our actions decide who we are, not our sex, title, or name! Indeed, adult's behaviour is the result of their learning from childhood, so it’s important to start early.
“First, dare to dream. It's not important if your dream is understood. Second, give yourselves opportunities to try new things because we have at least 10 times more potential than we think.”
The initiative gained widespread coverage on national media with stories appearing on television, online on radio and in newspapers.
For Plan International, the takeover of leadership roles is also an opportunity to showcase the power of girls. It is a chance for girls to share their hopes for the future. When girls get the same opportunities and choices in life as their male peers, they can transform their lives, their communities and the world.