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#GirlsVoices: Making my way in the world

I’m Aida, 23 years old from Senegal. I dropped out of school at the age of 15. I lost an opportunity that was offered to me by going to school – to gain knowledge, to claim a well-paid job, to participate in decisions that affect my life and be listened to.

But I am making my way in the world. I now run my own business, a stall selling food in my neighbourhood. This photo diary shows my daily life in my community in a suburb of Dakar, Senegal. 

A domestic worker

Without skills training, girls are often forced to do hard and poorly paid jobs such as domestic work, which puts them at risk of injury or abuse. Only a quality education, with vocational training can allow girls to get decent jobs. 

Aida serves breakfast to a young girl

I decided to start an income-generating activity and open my own little food stall, and get enough money to take care of myself and help my parents. This is a form of pride in our culture. The more you help your parents, the more you are perceived as a responsible child who is likely to succeed.

This is me serving breakfast to a little girl who is on her way to school. She will need support so that she completes school and enrolls in vocational training in order to get a job or start her own business – the first step to success is to have a good diet to be able to attend classes!

A girl sells water by the side of the road

This girl had to drop out of school early for financial reasons. This image, of a young girl selling water or ice by the side of the road, risking her life walking in between cars is pretty common in Dakar. She should have the chance to go back to school and pursue her ambitions. 

Members of the youth economic empowerment project

The training under the youth economic empowerment project allowed us to gain entrepreneurial skills such as identifying market opportunities, financial literacy and leadership. We are more confident now, and have a more important role in our families and communities. 

Aida smiles as she serves a customer

I am happy to have met the challenge to have an income by opening my own breakfast stall in my neighborhood. My ambition is to open a big restaurant in Dakar someday. All I need to achieve this is a little support from my parents, peers and teachers to get the qualifications and skills needed.