Full confession…I have never played chess in my life.
To be honest, it kind of intimidated me so I never chose to learn the game.
But the film The Queen of Katwe made me think twice about it.
Click to Watch The Queen of Katwe Trailer
Once in a great while a movie comes along that has the ability to transport you to another place, have you truly feel a character’s spirit and embody a universal message of empowerment, hope and humanity. THIS was that movie.
It’s a true story of Phiona Mutesi, a young girl from the slum of Katwe, Uganda, who is unable to read or write but breaks through every barrier put in her path to become a National Chess champion and international beacon of hope for the empowerment of women.
The expectations of young girls in Katwe are simple: spend their days searching for food to help feed their family, walking miles just to get clean water, trying not to get pregnant, and hoping against all hope to be able to attend school if their family can afford the school fees.
To be an African is to be an underdog in the world. To be Ugandan is to be an underdog in Africa. To be from Katwe, one of the poorest slums on Earth, is to be an underdog in Uganda and to be a girl is to be an underdog in Katwe. (CBN.com)
“Sometimes the place we’re used to is not the place you belong. You belong where you believe you belong. Where is that for you?” – Robert Katende
In Katwe, and in many places in the world, you need to be aggressive just to survive.
But in the case of Phiona, her coach taught her to “play like a woman.” This meant being herself, and releasing the traditional sense of what strength and power are about. And it is this, that was the key to victory and her ultimate transformation.
Tweet: When you empower women and girls, they become catalysts for change.
And rather than using force or aggression, the game of Chess has a different set of requirements:
How to Assess
Learning to Make Decisions
Seeing Challenges as Opportunities
In Chess there are over 280 billion positions that are possible after just 4 moves. Sounds overwhelming, but imagine then how many possible moves and positions you face daily.
Every day, Phiona walked 4 miles past raw sewage and the poorest villages, just to practice. When she first started playing, she lost….a lot! But she still kept playing. And she discovered the subtleties and strategies behind true power and leadership.
Now, the game of Chess has taken on a whole new meaning for me entirely. When you see Phiona’s fascination by the idea that “the little one” (the pawn), can become “the big one,” (the queen), it all becomes so clear.
“The size of your dreams must always exceed your current capacity to achieve them.” – Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Nobel Peace Prize Winner & President of Liberia
One of our Core Beliefs at Women Igniting Change is that when you empower women and girls, they become catalysts for change. They realize what they can become, believe in the power of their own voice, and are no longer willing to be defined by the rules that others place on them.
Phiona Mutesi is the embodiment.
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Melissa Gordon says