GenderHopes Monaco – Striving to make the right to education for girls & women a certainty

International Day of the Girl celebrated in Monaco


This past Tuesday, October 11, 2016 marked the International Day of the Girl. To celebrate this occasion, GenderHopes Monaco, founded and directed by Danish born Monaco resident Vibeke Brask Thomsen in 2011, organized an art exhibition under the fitting theme “A Confident Girl,” at the Columbus Hotel in the Principality with the objective of helping the efforts of the Akilah Institute for Women.

The charity event attracted more than 150 loyal supporters who came to admire and acquire some of the 40 art pieces, be it in the form of sculptures, paintings or photographs, with the artists giving their own unique and passionate rendition of the specially selected theme. Quite an achievement for Vibeke, specially considering that there were a plethora of other concurrent events that evening in the busy calendar of the Principality. Go girl!

Art at the service of society

Some 25 renowned local and international artists showcase their unique pieces of art that they generously donated or kindly agreed to share the profits. They are all available for purchase, with proceeds from all sales benefiting the Akilah Institute for Women, a college in East Africa that makes it possible for young women to achieve economic independence and reach leadership roles in the workplace and the community where they live. One of the important accomplishments to highlight is the fact that 88% of the institute’s alumnae have obtained gainful employment just within six months of graduation, and earn nearly 12 times the national median income, and 4 times the national average income.

List of artists as they appear on the book “A Confident Girl

  1. Louise Bang & Gui Lessin
  2. Leonora Baumann
  3. Valeria Becker
  4. Libia Bosker
  5. Belinda Bussotti
  6. Frances Cannon
  7. Nick Dazinger
  8. Dirk de Keyzer
  9. Fabian Edelstam
  10. Karen Joubert-Cordier
  11. Ana Kuni
  12. Peter Larsen
  13. Indira Mersiyanova
  14. Elena Papernaya
  15. Eleonora Strano
  16. Jeremy Taburchi
  17. Blake Ward
  18. Alice Wilson
  19. Toby Wright
  20. Peter Wüthrich

The poster of the charity art exhibition bears the work of art by German artist Valeria Becker, entitled Africain (2016). Swedish artist Fabian Edelstam exhibits several works portraying confident women, including a portrait of Princess Grace (2015) and Queen Elizabeth (2015) among others. Russian born Monaco resident Indira Mersiyanova exposed a large painting entitled My friend (2014) and also performed a live painting session during the event, to the delight of the guests.

Monaco resident and renowned photographer, Nick Danzinger, presented an emotive photo documentary of young Mariatu, who grew up in Sierra Leone and had her arms brutally amputated at the age of 13 to prevent her from voting. The book of the exhibition that is also for sale and bears Mariatu’s portrait on the cover, features information about the Day of the Girl, the United Nations, the Akilah Institute plus a compilation of all the art pieces exposed, including a preface by Robert Zoellick, former President of the World Bank. The main purpose of the book is to increase awareness of the plight of these associations in their continuous fight to give girls and women access to a proper education, and enlist others to help them achieve their goals. Together we are more!

Education is a right! 

Indira Mersiyanova, Nadine Niyitegeka from Akilah, Vibeke Brask Thomsen GH, and Celina Lafuente de Lavotha @EWrightImages

In spite of perceived improvement, girls and women continue to suffer discrimination that prevents them access to education. More than 50 million children worldwide, out of whom 31 million are girls, do not attend school and two thirds of illiterate adults are women. Even in developing countries, adolescent girls are more likely to abandon secondary school than boys. Poverty, pregnancy, school-based violence, child marriage and discriminatory gender norms are some of the major obstacles to girls’ education worldwide.

Girls and women’s right to education is guaranteed under international law. Article 10 of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) adopted in 1979 by the UN General Assembly, is the most comprehensive provision on girls and women’s right to education and sets up a plan of action to end such discrimination. This initiative is mirrored at the regional and national level in several countries.

GenderHopes has organized many fundraisings since its inception and has been relentlessly supporting concrete actions and other likeminded associations to end gender discrimination and domestic violence, working closely together with the local government, police, hospital and social services. This young association counts with the invaluable support of Ms Isabelle Bonnal, Director of Education, Youth and Sports, who was present at the exhibition and gave a presentation about Monaco’s commitment to higher education. An alumna from the Akilah Institute also shared her story as a survivor of the 1994 Rwandan genocide to becoming a student at Akilah.

“It’s all about small little steps,” Vibeke, said passionately. “And to say to young girls, and boys, that they can become anything they want.”

A girl’s future is in your hands

“A Confident Girl” exhibition runs until Sunday, October 30, 2016, at the Columbus Hotel 23 Avenue des Papalins, Monte-Carlo, Monaco. Your purchase of a work of art and the book of the exhibition will help girls become empowered women, who in turn will bring progress to their communities. You may also order the book by sending an email to

Today’s Quote

 “A confident girl is a girl who believes in herself.” Nick Danziger


2 thoughts on “GenderHopes Monaco – Striving to make the right to education for girls & women a certainty

  1. Pingback: Monaco Reporter features “A Confident Girl” art exhibit

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