I am delighted to be here with you tonight on the eve of the International Day of the Girl, which we celebrate on October 11th each year. In 2012, the United Nations established this day to highlight the challenges girls face and to promote girls’ empowerment around the world.
The theme this year is, “GirlForce: Unscripted and Unstoppable.” I can think of no better way to celebrate the International Day of the Girl than by honoring the D3c0ders Team, Dea Rrozhani, Jonada Shukarasi, and Arla Hoxha, winners of the global Technovation Challenge in Silicon Valley, California. They are working to empower girls and women across Albania with Gjejzâ (pronounced “Jay Za”), their innovative app to support victims of gender-based violence. They truly are an unstoppable girl-force!
For the Technovation Challenge, participants are asked to identify a problem in their community and to create a mobile app to solve it. The D3coders competed with 7,000 girls worldwide. With the development and presentation of their app, these exceptional girls represented Albania on a global stage and showed the world the intelligence, insightfulness, and innovation of Albanian youth. Our American Corner in Tirana started the Technovation Club four years ago, with the goal of empowering girls to embrace technology and innovation. This team represents the results of that effort. Jonada, Dea, and Arla, and you have made Albania proud and you have made the U.S. Embassy proud!
With their app, Gjejzâ, the D3c0ders decided to address gender-based violence, an issue that affects millions of women and girls around the world, and one that is specifically addressed in the U.S. Strategy on Women, Peace, & Security. The D3c0ders want their app to serve as a national repository of resources for those affected by gender-based violence, and they have had numerous supporters helping them in that endeavor. Tonight, we have invited those of you who work in different sectors related to domestic violence to come together to celebrate the D3c0ders and to make their vision a reality. And so, I urge all of you to talk with the girls about ideas for partnership, so that together, we can take an important step towards empowering victims of gender-based violence.
With that, I am delighted to introduce Arla, who will share a brief video message with us, and Dea and Jonada, who will tell us all about their app, Gjejzâ.