International Day of the Girl: Bopha’s Dream of Gender Equality in STEM!

We are celebrating the International Day of the Girl Child with the theme, "Invest in Girls' Rights: Our Leadership, Our Well-being."

This year’s theme underscores the undeniable truth that the future of our world is intricately tied to the rights, empowerment, and leadership of girls. It reminds us that by investing in their well-being and nurturing their leadership abilities, we are paving the way for a brighter, more equitable future for all.

In a rapidly evolving world, where there is a need for more and more skilled people in STEM roles especially women, empowering girls with strong critical thinking skills is more crucial than ever to ensure we are engaging the leaders of tomorrow.


Girl with robotic car
Bopha showcases her STEM team’s robot car, which will be a part of the STEM exhibition in September.

At Soam Thum Secondary School, in the Northeast of Cambodia, dedicated teachers who have been identified as emerging leaders in the education sector have been honing their own critical thinking skills to inspire students’ passion in STEM. Among the many passionate students benefiting from their teachers’ improved skills, is Bopha, a student whose journey represents the transformative power of the project.

Bopha’s journey in STEM began when, in the tenth grade, she joined her school’s STEM club, which was formed by her teachers participating in the project aimed at building critical thinking in the education sector. Even though she was younger than most club participants, she stood out because of her innovative ideas and natural leadership qualities.

Now a senior high school student at Soam Thum, Bopha has emerged as a trailblazer in her school’s STEM club, challenging societal norms and paving the way for other aspiring girls to follow in her footsteps. Bopha has taken on the opportunity of leading the STEM club comprising of twenty members. Bopha dreams of inspiring her peers, especially girls, to engage in STEM programs. She recognizes the immense benefits that come with studying STEM subjects, and loves how they seamlessly combine skills from mathematics, physics, and chemistry. Bopha thinks that understanding STEM early will help students to understand other subjects quicker.

“STEM isn’t just about robots and computers,” Bopha says “It’s about critical thinking, problem-solving, and creativity. It’s about changing the world.” And indeed, Bopha has the potential to do just that, starting with her eager involvement in a project revolving around robotics and programming. This project involves using ‘Robot Canva and Scratch’, a visual programming language designed to be accessible and educational. This project directly links to her academic subjects, such as Mathematics, Physics, and Chemistry, allowing her to understand and learn these subjects faster. Bopha’s critical thinking skills have flourished, she applies the knowledge learned in STEM club to real-life situations, showcasing the practicality and value of STEM education. Her exceptional abilities have earned her respect and admiration, not only from her peers but also from her teachers and mentors.

A group of teenagers working on a robotic car on the floor

“You see things differently when you’re involved in STEM,” Bopha explains. “For example, when I see an equation now, I don’t just see numbers and symbols, I see a problem that can be solved in multiple ways and that’s the beauty of STEM. It opens up your mind to new possibilities” she said.

Despite her young age, Bopha has already seen the benefits of her involvement in STEM. “It’s not just about improving my grades, but it’s about gaining relevant skills that I can use in the future, no matter what field I decide to go into” she says.

In just two short months, Bopha is already making a difference in the STEM Club. She’s not just defying the social norms that often discourage girls from pursuing STEM; she’s rewriting them. Her ultimate goal? To inspire other girls to follow in her footsteps. “I want more girls to see the potential in STEM,” says Bopha. “It’s not just for boys, girls can be innovators, creators, and leaders too.”

Bopha’s story is just one example of the boundless potential of girls worldwide. Her journey serves as a testament to the idea that investing in girls’ rights is an investment in the future of our societies where girls become leaders in their schools, communities, and the country. By nurturing the leadership, creativity, and intellect of girls in STEM and all fields, we unlock the potential for transformative change.

As we celebrate the International Day of the Girl Child under the theme “Invest in Girls’ Rights: Our Leadership, Our Well-being,” let us commit ourselves to providing equal opportunities, removing gender-based barriers, and amplifying the voices of girls everywhere. Let us recognize that girls like Bopha are the leaders and innovators of tomorrow, and by investing in their rights and well-being, we ensure a brighter and more inclusive future for all.

Together let’s build a world where every girl’s potential is realized, and their leadership shapes a better world for us all.

The Teacher’s at Bopha’s school were part of the ‘Building Critical Thinking in Emerging Leaders” project funded by the Patsy Collins Trust Fund Initiative.