Girl Heroes: Hakima - the voice of a new generation

Meet the 13-year-old who’s changing the aspirations of Ugandan girls

Girl Heroes is a regular feature that showcases inspiring girls who are making the girl effect a reality…

Last year Uganda was named as one of the 48 least developed countries in the world by the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD).

As they prepare to release this year's report next week, the story of a 13-year-old girl from Uganda is a timely reminder that the key to alleviating poverty in those 48 countries is investing in the unique potential of adolescent girls.

In many ways, Hakima is a normal teenage girl. She lives with her parents and 10 brothers and sisters. When she's older, she wants to become a doctor.

But Hakima is unusual in her community. Both her parents work - her father in a trading business, her mother in a grocery store - and their income means that Hakima and her siblings can all go to school.

Changing aspirations

In Uganda, poverty and teenage pregnancy - the latter often as a result of violence and sexual abuse - mean many girls don't finish their education.

Hakima is one of the lucky ones, but she refuses to accept that other girls in her community cannot have the same aspirations that she has.

 "If there's a family where there are boys and girls, and there is just some small money, they usually send boys to school. Girls will get married," says Hakima.

Her dedication to changing that is exceptional.

Hakima is chairperson of several projects promoting girls' and women's rights, including an anti-violence and child-protection club. She's also involved in a project tackling gender-based violence and gender inequality.

In March, she travelled to New York for the 57th Commission on the Status of Women to speak on behalf of Plan International. She says she returned from the conference with an even deeper determination to speak out on behalf of other girls in her community.  

Girls such as Hakima can change the status quo for the next generation of Ugandans. The onus is now on policy makers to empower them to do so.

You can help unleash the potential of girls like Hakima by supporting the Girl Declaration

Do you know a girl hero? Tell us about it on Facebook or Twitter