“Girls are the key to change in the world because when a mother knows how to read, so will the child. And that is how we transform education.”
The first thing you need to know about me is that I am the eldest daughter of the eldest daughter of the eldest daughter. Now that I am starting a new decade in my life – I just turned 20 – I am understanding who I am as a young woman and feminist and who I have the potential to be. My work as a gender activist is also how I heal and hope that my little sister does not need to fight for gender equity the same way as I do.
What inspired you to advocate for education?
To read is to inhale and to write is to exhale. My passion for education is a product of a family that survived by reading. My grandfather walked kilometers to the nearest library to read every possible book he could before he had to work to eat. Reading got him a degree in Marketing that supported my mother’s education and, per consequence, mine. There is something magical and surreal about being able to “draw” your name that makes your existence real. My biggest inspiration is the short movie Maria Life, available on YouTube; I cry every time I watch it.
“To read is to inhale and to write is to exhale. My passion for education is a product of a family that survived by reading.”
What is one personal story that reflects the impact education has had on your life, or the life of someone you know?
Let me tell you a secret: the only reason I am able to contribute to the summit is because my mom fought for me. She convinced the best international school in Brazil to award me a full scholarship for years. That is why I speak English and Spanish and am able to advocate for education and gender equity. They believed in me so I could believe in other girls.
What is the biggest challenge facing young learners now, and what can we do to address the crisis?
Learning for the sake of a good score on an exam. I am sad to say that I do not remember any response I gave on any exam in high school, because learning is about learning how to learn. It is less about the content and more about the experience and the passion you have for what you are doing. We can address this crisis by teaching young children to have a growth mindset and become lifelong learners.
All 17 Goals will be reviewed during the SDG Summit in 2023, the largest global moment since the launch of the 2030 Agenda eight years ago. What is your advice to education leaders and young people preparing for post-TES mobilization?
We want to change the world. We want rapid change and rapid results. But deep and effective change comes when we create a solid foundation that can survive centuries. We will not eliminate illiteracy in our generation and perhaps not in our children’s generations. So let’s think long-term and invest in girls. Girls are the key to change in the world because when a mother knows how to read, so will the child. And that is how we transform education.
Who is your superhero that you admire and why?
My sister is 16 and sick. She faces depression and anxiety because her spirit was too free for this world. She is an artist and an empath. She loves music, dance, and books. She learns by doing; she thrives on projects. Despite being kicked out of schools and almost losing passion for living, she is fighting for herself. She is changing her life, reading and pursuing her interests despite our family’s disapproval. I wish I was as strong as she is.
Giovanna on Twitter: @gigibasso1