By: Alice Mamaga Akosua Amoako, Ghana

Originally posted on Say It Forward for #YoungWomenSay 

Growing up, people most often identified me as the “dark-skinned girl” or the “charcoal seller’s daughter.” I come from a community where most daughters end up taking over their mother’s work, and I didn’t want to sell charcoal as a profession. I woke up each day and said to myself that I needed to change.

At age 13, my mother encouraged me to join a youth radio program called “Curious Minds” to build my knowledge and contribute to development projects in my community. I believe that this one step led me away from a future of selling charcoal to thinking globally about the world beyond my community.

I went on to study Information Technology at university and started an NGO, the Autism Ambassadors of Ghanaduring my third year of school. In my fourth year, I developed an android app called Autism Aid as my final year project. The app, which promotes Autism awareness and helps improve the lives of children living with Autism, was the best in my class.

Now, I am 26 years old and a proud digital and social entrepreneur. The Autism Aid app is the first of its kind in Ghana and West Africa, and is available for download on the Google Play Store around the world. My biggest triumph was when I won the mYouth Continental Mobile App Challenge, a competition organized by the European Union, but my most fulfilling moment is knowing that my innovative project is helping to improve the lives of children living with Autism in Ghana and across Africa.

The fact remains that many young women in Ghana find it difficult to reach their aspirations. They are often forced to conform to the career path that society envisions for them. I say no to this thinking. I believe that young women can have fulfilling and impactful careers if they get an education, work hard, and continue to be innovative. The road leading to successful careers comes with its own challenges, but determination is always the best tool to achieve your dreams.

I was courageous and determined enough to change my identity and make an impact - and I have made it. Today, people no longer call me the dark-skinned girl or the charcoal seller’s daughter. Instead, they call me the innovator of an app or the founder of an NGO.

My words of encouragement for women and girls in my community and across the world: believe in yourself, be bold, work hard, and build a better world.

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#YoungWomenSay is a partnership with Say It Forward in support of International Youth Day 2018 and culminating on International Day of the Girl. The campaign features blogs from incredible young women from around the world, and is designed to harness the power of storytelling and social media to drive attention to their lived experiences, dreams, and aspirations. 

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