Queen of Katwe: An example why we empower girls

Disney’s Queen Of Katwe is a vibrant true story of a young girl from the streets of rural Uganda, whose world rapidly changes when she is introduced to the game of chess. David Oyelowo and Oscar winner Lupita Nyong’o also star in the film. And let me tell you: while the Queen of Katwe is based on a true story about a Ugandan girl who becomes an international chess champion, it really is about a Ugandan girl who teaches us how to win at a game called life.

Hebrews 11:1 says: “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” No matter what, you can’t give up. You will lose at times, you will fail at times. But failure will only teach you how to play the game of life better.

The story is about faith and about a mother who never gave up on her children despite the circumstances. This film is filled with inspiration and determination.

My intention here, is not to narrate the plot of the story, but rather highlight reasons why- if you have a sister, daughter or know any teenage girl – should take them to either watch this movie or buy them the book, or better still, understand why we all need to advocate for a better life for girls.

First of all, empowering and inspiring young girls starts with us. Imagine if Robert Katende, Mutesi’s chess trainer and Nakku Harriet,Mutesi’s mum never believed in her. Right now she wouldn’t be a law student and a globally celebrated chess champion. Phiona is simply a perfect portrait of a girl who learns not to be defined merely by her roots and sex but by merit and potential.

Secondly, young girls need heroes like Katende who remains a father figure and hero in Muteisi’s life. He portrays the kindness of man who saw a potential escape for a young girl and did whatever he had to make it happen. Katende lives his life being proud of talent he saw, groom and inspire teenage girls. On the other hand, Theo is the ‘villain’ who exploits Mutesi’s teenage sister Night and impregnates her, cutting short her future dreams. We need more Katendes in this world, not Theos!

Lastly, is the joy of reaping benefits of empowered girls. The 2011 Uganda Demographic Health Survey still shows how the prevalence of child marriages, teenage pregnancies, low ratio of girl child education empowerment compared to boys, are still high. As UNFPA states, If we are to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals, we must fight for, and invest in girls.

At Ba Nga Afayo Initiative Uganda, we know that it is difficult for girls growing up in families who make both ends meet of a minimum income to engage in social or school activities. These children are exposed to a serious risk of social exclusion. The discrimination against girls is so severe that action must be taken to advocate for a better life for girls.

Mutesi’s story needs to be taken to schools, communities and all places where young girls can watch it or read her story and be inspired so as to know that no matter where they come from, their dreams remain valid as Lupita Nyongo says.

It is, without doubt, that Queen of Katwe deserves an applause—both for the story it communicates and how it’s communicated. If we want to have the real joy of an empowered society, let’s start grooming more Phiona Mutesi’s in Uganda and you can help!!

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