Meet Togo’s youth leader calling for girls’ rights
After taking part in Plan International’s Girls Takeover campaign, Dorcas has developed leadership skills and is calling for equality in her country.
Dorcas, 20, is a passionate advocate for girls' rights in Togo.
Dorcas, 20, is currently studying medicine at the University of Lomé. She is the oldest of 3 sisters, her mother is a seamstress, and her father is a headteacher.
In 2019, she took over the position of Chief of Surgical Emergency Services at Lomé University Hospital as part of Plan International’s Girls Takeover initiative. The global Girls Takeover is a call to action for radical social and political change to tear down barriers of discrimination and prejudice that continue to hold girls back. Through the #GirlsTakeover, girls occupy spaces where they are rarely seen or heard, making it clear they have the right to be there without being silenced or ignored.
“This experience opened my eyes to understand nothing is easy,” says Dorcas. “I showed dynamism and a willingness to accomplish what was required of me. At the end, doctors appreciated me, encouraged me and taught me so many things. This experience was the trigger for me to become a youth leader.”
Following the Girls Takeover, Dorcas joined the youth movements, Alafia Jeunes and Girls’ Motion, partners of Plan International Togo on the Girls Get Equal campaign and the Girls Lead project.
Dorcas says, “Through activities I participated in with Plan International Togo, I had opportunities to improve myself every day. As part of the activities with the Girls Lead project, I attended training sessions during which I learned a lot about self-esteem and how to communicate. This helped me a lot.”
For International Day of the Girl 2020, Dorcas joined a youth committee set up to collaborate with Plan International Togo to organise the day’s activities, including more Girls Takeovers and a campaign to call for an end to online abuse.
Sexual health advice for young people
This led to Dorcas co-hosting a show on a national channel about the campaign. Following this experience, she was approached to be an online presenter for AIMES Afrique, an organisation that provides medical services across the continent. Their online channel includes discussions with experts on various topics. Dorcas now leads a programme about sexual and reproductive health.
“I feel very excited when I’m with young people and talk to them about this,” she says. “It has always been a passion for me to find my peers and share with them. Today’s youth really need guidance, they need to be listened to, heard, and benefit from advice. Interacting with them like this is truly priceless for me.”
After applying to enter a girls’ leadership contest in October 2020, Dorcas was elected Togo’s young girl leader of 2020 because of her campaigning and youth leadership work.
She says, “I don’t intend to give up my passion as an online host, even though it currently coincides with my studies and it requires a lot of time. I intend to continue and be a leader, especially for girls, in discussions about their rights.”
Girls Get Equal, Sexual and reproductive health and rights, Youth empowerment, girls’ leadership