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What does it mean to be a “trailblazer”? To me, it means leading the charge for justice, equality, and dignity. It’s about fearlessly challenging oppression, advocating for marginalized communities, and inspiring others to join the fight for fundamental human rights.

I’m extremely passionate about women’s health, reproductive rights, and sports equity. As a sportswoman myself, I strongly advocate for greater female representation to help girls embrace sports and its many opportunities. I believe fighting for women’s health and reproductive rights is vital as we can empower women to make informed choices about their bodies and lives, ensuring their autonomy and well-being. Volunteering at a hospital back home in Sri Lanka sparked my interest in this field. During a gynecology ward placement, I witnessed the stark reality of menstrual stigma: Women and young girls—the youngest being 12—suffering from urinary tract infections (UTIs) and pelvic inflammatory disease all because they couldn’t afford menstrual products or weren’t allowed to buy them since periods were considered “dirty” and buying them was a “waste of money.” It broke my heart that they couldn’t do anything about it either; thus, I was empowered to try and make a difference to the best of my abilities.

Gender justice is crucial because it upholds the fundamental principle that all individuals, regardless of gender, deserve equal rights, opportunities, and dignity. It’s not just important to me; it should be universally imperative. Promoting gender justice is essential to creating a fair, inclusive, and equitable world for everyone.

Promoting gender justice is essential to creating a fair, inclusive, and equitable world for everyone.

Solidarity and the power of community are vital in achieving global gender justice. Together, we amplify voices, challenge oppressive systems, and demand equality. Through collective action, we break down barriers, empower women, and create a world where every individual’s rights and dignity are respected. In the words of Girl Up Global Community Engagement Manager Chandeerah Davis, ”Where there is no community in our justice, there is no justice in our community.”

We can trailblaze together for a brighter future by fostering inclusivity, embracing diversity, and amplifying underrepresented voices. You! The youth play a vital role with your energy and fresh perspectives, holding immense power to drive change. I advise future trailblazers to embrace empathy, equity, and inclusion in their pursuits. Stay resilient, stay inspired, and know your tireless efforts can create a more just and compassionate world for generations.

In honor of International Day of the Girl on October 11, Girl Up is celebrating our global #GirlHeroes and commemorating the collective power of girl leaders around the world all month long! Discover how they are leading the way toward a better world—and how YOU can tooas we #TrailblazeTogether!

The views and opinions expressed in this blog are the writer’s own.

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