Children the world over tell their stories right from their hearts

Femmes Leaders Monaco promote gender equality

LOGO HAUTE DEFINITION FLMM[1] copyThe association Femmes Leaders Mondiales Monaco (FLMM) was founded in 2010 by Hilde Haneuse Heye and it counts today with 75 members from different nationalities reflecting the variety of the population in the Principality. FLMM is affiliated to the association Femmes Leaders Mondiales, already represented in a dozen countries. This non-sectarian organization promotes and defends the position of women in society and fosters equal rights in the economic, social, cultural, political and educational domains.

In regards to gender equality the association firmly believes that behavior is altered by education, and most importantly that the idea of equality between men and women has to start at a very young age. It does not matter where in the world a child grows up, he or she will reproduce the same schemas experienced growing up. To change behavior it is imperative to create awareness on the need for equality between boy and girl, and ideally that  can be taught in an heterogeneous class under the guidance of  a teacher, while creating synergy among classes around the entire world that speak the same language, we can contribute to a dialogue of cultures. Without the risk of being pretentious FLMM nurture the sweet ambition to send a message of peace by defending the fundamental values of respect, tolerance and difference. Gender equality is a human right and women are entitled to live in dignity and in freedom to expand their choices in life, thus empowering women is also a tool for advancing development and reducing poverty. Adolescent boys and young men are critical allies in the battle for gender equality and must be engaged at an early stage, so they can be educated to challenge gender stereotypes, promoting positive constructions of masculinity, and practice attitudes and behaviors based on equality and respect for human rights. It is on these basis that the French language writing contest “Aux Coeurs des Mots” (that would translate to “In the hearts of words”) was conceived.

First International French-language Writing Contest “Aux Coeurs des Mots” 

francophonie_nouveau_logoAfter two years of intense preparation by the members of FLMM, the first International French-speaking Digital Writing Contest “Aux Coeurs des Mots” was born, under the patronage of the International Francophone Organization sponsored by its General Secretary H.E. Abdou Diouf, with the support of the Francophone Business Forum. int-29712It took some diligent and arduous work by members of FLMM from its inception to the official take off. It required organization, building a network of schools in countries around the world, define the methodology of the contest, establish a jury of renowned writers and personalities and much more. Once everything was in place the project got real traction, taking a life of its own, growing immense wings and flying high. Like they say, it was an idea whose time had come!

The contest was launched in October 2012 and officially closed end of May 2013 and was intended for children in primary schools of French speaking countries or those where French is taught as a second language, emphasizing the unifying force of language, under the motto: “Educate to change mentalities.” Students between 10 and 13 years old were enrolled in mixed classes in French speaking schools, or establishments teaching French language. Nineteen countries and more than 400 children have participated in the first edition of the contest, with one class per country: Algeria, Armenia, Benin, Burundi, Cameroun, France, Gambia, Lebanon, Luxembourg, Madagascar, Mali, Morocco, Monaco, Check Republic, Rwanda, Senegal, Togo, Tunisia and Uruguay.

Building gender-equitable societies one child at a time

Aux Coeurs des Mots - Cherche MidiThe guiding principle of this international writing contest was to create awareness in children on the fundamental values defined in the International Convention of Children’s Rights and to make them think about relationships and specially focus on the need for equality between boys and girls. With the support of  the High Commission of Human Rights of the Organization of United Nations, the European Council and H.S.H. Prince Albert II of Monaco, the collection of cartoons CYBERDODO illustrates the articles of the International Convention of Children’s Rights. It serves as teaching aid and as a basis for reflection for children. Children were able to review with their French teachers Article 28/29 that establishes that each child has a right to education, girls as well as boys. This reminds us of the terrible story of Malala Yousafzai, this young Pakistani girl born in 1997, victim of attempted murder on October 9, 2012. She became a symbol of the fight for girls’ education and a testimony to exceptional courage.

Children are very sensitive and do not favor discrimination. Having understood the important significance of equality between boy/girl, the students, guided by their teacher, imagined a story illustrating this type of situation as they experienced it in their own lives. They were asked to integrate five elements in their story: a girl, a boy, an animal, a mineral and a vegetal, plus typical elements from their local life, like beliefs, traditions and culture. The result was a fascinating collection of very moving narratives by children from different nations in their own ingenuous candid words.

Cherche Midi edited all the stories and published them into a book with prefaces by H.S.H. Prince Albert II of Monaco and H.E. Abdou Diouf, that was sent to each participating student and distributed for sale in bookshops. The name of each child is indicated on each story where he or she took part. Besides gaining insight into their rights and the need for equality between boy/girl, this contest encouraged children to use technology like Internet with the objective to share and exchange with other children from different countries. A dedicated and safe Extranet was made available to the participating schools for the use of both children and teachers.

An exceptional Jury

The nineteen stories were carefully read and evaluated by an exceptional Jury made of writers and renowned personalities: André Azoulay, Michèle Cotta, Brigitte Fossey, Antoine de Maximy, Thierry Dusautoir, Catherine Maunoury, Patrick Poivre d’Arvor, Aldo Romano, Marjane Satrapi, Jacques Salomé, Philippe Streiff and Bernard Werber. A comprehensive evaluation grid was created that facilitated the work by the members of the Jury, and the best three stories were selected.

And the winners are…

The first edition of the contest «Aux Coeurs des Mots» (In the Hearts of Words) finalized May 30, 2013. The Jury selected the 3 best stories among the 19 imagined by the children. Due to very close results between the 3rd and 4th country, a special prize was awarded to Uruguay representing another continent.

  • 1st Senegal: « La famine au village de Sare Bafe » (The famine of Sare Bafe’s village)
  • 2nd France: « Le reve de Juliette » (Juliette’s dream)
  • 3rd Mali:  “Adja, the pearl of Walhabougou” (Adja, la perle de Walahabougou)
  • 4th Uruguay: «Les gardiens du voyage» (The travel guardians)

The award was specially created by Valentina Gaspari Louppe member of Femmes Leaders Monaco. Valentina explained that she likes the idea of overlapping, of looking at one image and seeing much more. For the contest Valentina said: “I was inspired by the children’s happiness of learning and the freedom it provides.” She carefully searched her archives and selected many images that represented that state of mind, and decided on the red and white colors to represent the Principality of Monaco where the project was born.

The prize ceremony in Monaco

The awards ceremony took place on Thursday, March 20, 2014 at the Fairmont Hotel in Monte-Carlo, during a glamorous and emotional Gala that marked the International Day of Francophonie, within the 2nd World Congress of Femmes Leaders Mondiales with the participation of members from all over the world. This three-day event organized in its totality by FLMM, reunited the representatives from the winning countries in the presence of H.S.H. Prince Albert II, members of the Jury and important personalities from the Principality. It was the perfect occasion to honor the participating countries and distributing the well deserved trophies. The publication of the book Aux Coeurs des Mots by Cherche Midi will allow for its broad worldwide distribution. FLMM also wanted to recognize the invaluable support received by H.E. Abdouf Diouf with a special award created by the sculptor and Monaco resident Mateo Mornar that was delivered to a representative from the International Francophone Organization.


Watch a reportage of the Gala in Monaco Info:

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Photo credit: Philippe Fitte


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