Heanneah S. Farwenee is a 26-year-old young Liberian woman, educator, and a feminist. I hold a Master’s Degree in Gender and Education from the University of Botswana, and a Bachelors Degree in Accounting. Currently, I am the Director of Early Childhood Education at the Ministry of Education in Liberia. I am also the founder and Executive Director of MY SMILE FOUNDATION, a local non-governmental organization that advocates for girls education through its Pads for Progress campaign which is gear at providing sanitary pads for adolescent girls in rural Liberia to help increase their retention in school (former education). We use a lot of help from professional social media companies. The most known of them is The Marketing Heaven and it provides to us real views, so we can reach as much as possible interested public through social media. I am also a global champion for Women empowerment of the UN Women empower Women program. I serve as motivational speaker at many events locally and internationally.
WHAT FUELS ME?
Unique- I pride myself as being energized by challenges and problems. I am driven towards change by doing.
Respect-I considered every human as human and regardless of individual differences, I give respect to each and every person along my life’s journey. By so doing, I believe that respect is earned. I exhibit high respect for everything that exists or cross my path. Thus it creates a smooth and comfortable atmosphere and promotes peace. Kids and other people I work with always refer to me as down to earth.
Zealous- I am always demonstrating my enthusiasm about things in a positive way. Whenever I engage in something, I become very interested and do all I can to maintain necessary zeal to pull through and succeed desired results. In my work, I ensure that staff members are all enthusiastic about the job.
MY GREATEST INFLUENCE:
My mother has had the greatest influence on me. Her compassion for people in the simplest of ways, being original, being zealous and not giving up on yourself is key qualities she had molded my life by.
MY TOP THREE ROLE MODELS:
These are people that thrive regardless their various conditions. They did not allow situation determine their faith, they rose above all and find solutions to huge problems. Their little act of kindness, patience, and endurance is inspiring.
IN THE NEXT FIVE YEARS…..
In the next five years, I envision my organization producing/manufacturing local sanitary pad at a larger scale to reach each and every girl child in Liberia and beyond helping them to stay in school during their menstruation and also recruiting other young people to enable me to carry on this initiative. I also envision myself running my own school (formal education) as an entrepreneur.
Yes, I do have a partner and he is very supportive.
THE AFRICAN WOMAN’S CHALLENGE:
The right to access and participate in education, sexual and gender-based violence and body images.
In ensuring rights to access and fully participate in education, my organization provides free sanitary pads to adolescent girls in rural Liberia to help them not to miss or drop out from school because of menstruation. In the provision of pads, we provide education on menstrual hygiene and sexual health and reproductive rights.
Regarding sexual and gender-based violence, I often do advocacy, through speaking and writing, and sometimes, I join in the street protest against rape. Regards to body image, I often do mentorship where I encourage young women to embrace their bodies regardless of shape and size. I encourage young women not to feel inferior of their bodies and should not allow any particular body standard to hate themselves or think they are not alright. They are beautiful just the way they are, whether slim or fat.
WHAT I DO TO RELAX:
I usually go out with friends and loved ones. I also spend time conversing with my mom, siblings, and friends about life, ambition, and interesting issues.
MY – I.C.E. [INSPIRE|CELEBRATE|EMPOWER] VISION
I think the African Woman should be inspired, celebrated and empowered because it is a way of encouraging her to achieve or do more great things no matter her circumstances, applauding her strengths deepen her ability and courage to persevere and that her little act of kindness is appreciated, and also empowering her is a means of ensuring gender equity and enabling her to achieve her full human potential to make a better world, eliminating gender stereotypes and prejudice.
MY AFRICAN UNION PLANS:
I would like to be responsible for adolescent girls, specifically implementing policies in building their confidence, self-esteem and ensuring that they can access education and other opportunities to empower themselves. I would also like to be their voice to ensure that their rights are actually heard, respected and considered in issues that affect them directly and indirectly.
FINAL WORDS OF ADVICE:
To other young African women, don’t just talk, but do so that positive change can indeed be realized. You have to have faith in God and believe in yourselves in whatever you would like to accomplish. Don’t give up on yourself no matter the circumstances. When you dream, take necessary steps to help you achieve it, and in so doing, let no one or nothing be a barrier to fulfilling your dreams.