All hail the Queen of Katwe
For International Day of the Girl, Plan International UK held an exclusive screening of Disney’s new film, the Queen of Katwe, in Picturehouse Central, in association with our corporate partners Picturehouse. Lupita Nyong’o, one of the film's stars, was one of the guests and introduced the film, championing the need to empower girls.
The film follows the true story of Phiona Mutesi, a young girl whose world changes when she is introduced to chess. Growing up in Katwe, a slum in Kampala, Uganda, Phiona’s mother struggles to feed her children and send them to school. But when Phiona finds out about a chess club and overcomes the initial teasing she receives for it ‘not being a game for girls’, she discovers a natural aptitude for the game. The film stars Lupita Nyong’o (Phiona’s mother), David Oyelowo (Phiona’s chess coach) and Madalina Nalwanga as Phiona and is directed by Mira Nair. The film is released across the UK today.
We know that girls can be left behind because of their gender, they aren’t given the same opportunities as their brothers, and are often the first in a family to be left out of school. Phiona’s story proves that when given the right opportunities, girls can overcome the barriers they face and fulfil their potential.
We have been working in Uganda since 1992. Our programmes in the country focus on providing quality education for all children, protecting children from harm and helping young people access employment opportunities – all with a special focus on girls. In the slums of Uganda our outreach programmes support girls who are at risk of falling into sex work. We train these young women in skills ranging from business management and entrepreneurship to life skills and awareness of their rights. They also gain access to sexual and reproductive health and rights services.
Plan International Uganda’s Margaret Akello, is the country office's gender specialist. Margaret attended the screening of the film and recognises that life for girls in Katwe, rarely becomes a fairytale:
"There are hardly any facilities for keeping girls safe, healthy and happy, such as street lights, water and well-equipped schools.
“However, Plan international Uganda has programmes for young girls, supporting them in life skills, safety and inclusion, empowering g girls to become economically independent and teaching them about their sexual and reproductive health and rights. We also have programmes to try and convince girls to go back to school especially those that dropped out early, for whatever reason", says Margaret.
The film highlights what the work of Plan International has driven for many years - that girls who are educated are more likely to live the life that they choose to and not one that is chosen for them. For International Day of the girl, with our partners Picturehouse and with thanks to Disney, we were able to share this message in central London and across Picturehouse cinemas nationwide.
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