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By Andrea Andres
11 October 2023

11 October marks a special day in the calendar – International Day of the Girl!  

A celebration of the unstoppable power of girls, it’s a day to embrace their potential, break barriers, and build a world where every girl’s dreams know no bounds.  

Together, we can work towards a world where girls can lead change in their community, just like Srey Pov ‘Te Pi’ (above left) and Menghorng (above right) do in Cambodia with UNICEF’s Generation Future, a launchpad for young Cambodians with big ideas for change to transform their potential into action and achievement.  

To share their stories, we connected Te Pi and Menghorng with UNICEF Australia Ambassador and Olympian Emma McKeon (who inspires us through her tenacity and drive) to discuss their projects and how they’re changing the game for girls worldwide. 

UNICEF Ambassador Emma McKeon at World Children's Day © UNICEF Australia

Meet Emma McKeon

Emma is the most successful Australian athlete at a single Olympics and the only female in the world across all sports to win seven medals at one Olympic Games, the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.  

Emma is passionate about global health issues and has supported numerous UNICEF campaigns, raising over $20,000 for our Ukraine appeal and donating a signed swimming cap from the Tokyo Olympics. 

Keep reading below to find out how the conversation went... 

Emma: Hi Te Pi and Menghorng, it’s great to speak with you both. Tell us about the project you developed with UNICEF’s Generation Future program.  

Te Vi: In 2022, I was shown one of the Generation Future programs and I wanted to inspire others with my own initiative. My project is called Girl’s Kick, offering young girls coaching sessions and promoting the benefits of football through social media campaigns. 

Menghorng: With the Generation Future program, I created a project called Ladies in Tech, where we aim to inspire girls to explore the tech sector. For our project, we created a workshop, a competition and a talk show where we invited women in the tech sector to share their stories and inspire our students through their tech journey. 

Emma: Why did you want your project to focus on helping other girls? 

Te Vi: I chose this project to show how football is for everyone and to encourage parents to let their kids play football.  

Most parents think that football is just for boys, so I wanted to overcome this challenge by showing that it benefits all kids, including girls, as it allows them to make new friends and is good for their health.  

Menghorng: The reason that I created this project is because of my own experiences. I grew up in the countryside and could see that girls, especially in these rural areas, lacked access to technology and the STEM sector.  

Seeing this issue, especially the gender inequality in the tech sector, led me to create my Ladies in Tech project. People often think that technology is only for boys and that’s why we wanted to create a community that can inspire girls.  

"We want to equip girls with the skills to be the next generation of leading women in tech. "

Ladies in Tech creator

Emma: How have UNICEF and Generation Future supported your dream? 

Te Vi: UNICEF was a big part of helping my project through seed funding, skill development, online learning, and helping me become a leader.  

Menghorng: I used to participate in many programs, but Generation Future allowed me to lead my own project and make an impact in my community. 

 I'm thankful to UNICEF and the Generation Future program for the opportunity to share my skills and gain more knowledge from leading my own project, especially with my wonderful mentor.   

Emma: What changes would you like to see to improve gender equality in Cambodia? 

Te Vi:  In the future, I'd love to see girls have the same opportunities as boys and feel empowered to do what they love. It's important because everyone is equal, so girls should be able to do whatever they feel is right for them. 

Menghorng: To improve gender equality in Cambodia, I would love to see some change. First, I would love to see more opportunities for girls to explore the tech sector because I’ve seen firsthand the lack of opportunities for girls, especially those in rural areas.  

Secondly, I would love to see strong support from the community, especially parents. I would love more parents to encourage their daughters to follow their dreams, especially in the tech sector. Finally, I'd love to see the change from girls themselves, and for them not to be afraid to give things a try and create something new and wonderful. 

A better future for every girl 

"It’s important for girls to follow their passion and be changemakers. Girls are the only ones who know what they want to be and what they want to do. Following their passion can also help improve their knowledge and shape their skills to help our society be a better place for everyone. We need boys and girls to work together to further develop our country and make a positive impact."

Generation Future participant in Cambodia

This International Day of the Girl, you can empower girls like Te Pi and Menghorng to achieve their goals. 

UNICEF is committed to giving every girl (and every boy) equal access to the education they’ll need to thrive. Your gift today will give children that chance.  

A girl writes and equation on a chalkboard.
©UNICEF/UN0539172/Leul Kinfu

Education for Every Girl

Let’s break down the barriers and help girls to become relentless and empowered.