Hear how Mialitiana Clerc made history on the slopes at 16 years old.
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5 September 2019 | Volume 2, Issue 5
  A note from our guest editor:
Hello again, Assembly readers. When I wrote to you last year, I was the 19-year-old editorial intern who helped launch this digital publication and newsletter. This year, I’m the 20-year-old editorial intern who is helping it thrive.

A lot has changed (other than the fact that I got a year older — 20s here I come!). Assembly has now featured girls and women from over 80 countries and territories. We’ve had conversations with best-selling authors, leading tech executives and award-winning engineers. But most importantly, we’ve connected with you, our readers, to hear about the challenges facing your communities, the problems you care about and the work you’re doing to make this world a better place.

I love Assembly because each issue showcases girls and our potential. Each issue recognises young female leaders around the world whose contributions and opinions are too often overlooked. Assembly is a testament to our ingenuity and strength. It is a celebration of our achievements.

So, without further ado, let me tell you about today’s newsletter.

First, we introduce Sheilah Sheldone, a 10-year-old painting prodigy from Kenya, who shares some of her favourite pieces and the inspiration behind them. We honour Junko Tabei, the first female mountaineer to climb Mount Everest and all Seven Summits. I speak with 17-year-old Mialitiana Clerc, Madagascar’s only female Olympic skier. And we hear from a reader in Tunisia about why she loves Assembly.

The girls and women featured today embody everything I love about this publication. I hope you enjoy reading!
Artist spotlight
Kenyan painting prodigy captures the beauty of her country
Sheilah Sheldone
By Sheilah Sheldone
When 10-year-old Kenyan artist Sheilah Sheldone paints, she paints subjects that are close to her heart. From wildlife to female role models, her artwork captures her favourite aspects of life in Kenya.

“I use paintings to tell stories, especially of women and children, who like my mother, suffer a great deal to give our lives meaning,” Sheilah shares.

Her paintings, which often feature bold colours and abstract figures, have captured the attention of art lovers around the world. BBC News, Citizen TV Kenya and FOX40 have all written about her prodigious talent. In 2018, her portrait of Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta went viral on the internet and the government invited her to present the painting to the president at the State House in Nairobi.

Sheilah doesn’t know where her skills come from, but she works to make sure she passes along her expertise to the next generation. She teaches art to other students in her hometown of Mombasa through the Sheilah Sheldone Arts for Social Change CBO, a programme she founded with her mother.

In the images and captions below, Sheilah shares some of her favourite paintings and the inspiration behind them.
Sheilah Sheldone
“A Woman's World”
Women are the epitome of multitasking. A woman’s world starts as early as 4 a.m., waking up with tons of thoughts and tasks that need to be done. She multitasks on everything: housework, childcare, income generating activities and more. She goes to sleep late with so much done yet so much left to do. This painting depicts how special and important a woman is and how the world cannot do without her.
Sheilah Sheldone
“The Instrument”
I am an artist wearing many hats. I am also a singer. And that is what this painting is depicting. It shows that you can explore all your talents and gifts that God has given you instead of settling for less.

Sheilah Sheldone
“The Jungle”
The elephant is one of the Big Five animals (elephant, lion, leopard, rhinoceros and Cape buffalo) that is found in our national parks and a real tourist attraction. Unfortunately, they are in danger from poachers who kill them for ivory. This painting is done to show the world the value of our wild animals, like the elephant.
This Moment in History
Celebrating Junko Tabei, the first woman to reach the top of Mount Everest and ascend the Seven Summits
Junko Tabei
September 22, 1939 — October 20, 2016

At age 10, Junko Tabei climbed Mount Nasu in Japan on an elementary school field trip. It was then that she decided to become a mountaineer.

After graduating from Showa Women’s University, she formed the Ladies Climbing Club (LCC) to bring together other female climbers. During the organisation’s expedition up Mount Everest in 1975, an unexpected avalanche buried Junko and left her unconscious for several minutes. Her team dug her out and Junko became the first woman to reach the top of the famed mountain.

Junko dedicated the rest of her life to climbing peaks and breaking barriers for women in the field. She was the first woman to ascend the Seven Summits and she climbed the tallest mountains in over 70 countries. In 2000, Junko returned to university to pursue a degree in environmentalism and became an outspoken advocate against the degradation of mountain terrain by climbers.
Madagascar’s first female Olympic skier is taking the sport to new altitudes
Mialitiana Mia Clerc
  By Omolara Uthman
Cet article est aussi disponible en fran├žais.

Soon after Mialitiana “Mia” Clerc learned to walk and talk, her father put her on her first pair of skis. “I didn’t know how to stop so I was going straight and I was scared all the time,” she remembers of her 3-year-old self. But Mia quickly mastered the basics — and her skiing career took off from there. At age 9, she began racing competitively. At age 16, she became the first female athlete to represent Madagascar at the Winter Olympics.

Born in Antananarivo, Madagascar, Mia was adopted as a baby by Stephane Clerc and Sylvie Regat, a couple from France. Mia grew up skiing in the French Alps under the guidance of her father, Stephane, who is now her head coach. After competing with her local team, Inter Club Magland Desert Blanc, she joined the competitive international alpine skiing circuit in 2017 and qualified for the Pyeongchang Olympics in 2018.

Now 17 years old, the rising star balances her trainings with her university studies. In between ski runs and homework, I spoke with Mia about her passion for the sport, her hopes for the future and how she navigates uncharted territory — both on and off the slopes.

Omolara Uthman (OU): What do you like the most about skiing?
Mialitiana Clerc (MC):
What I like about skiing is going fast and feeling good. When you have trained for an entire season for all of the conditions you will have to face during the races, you know that when skiing in a demanding route — with snow that isn’t pleasant to ski, with bad weather or whatever — you will still ski well and succeed.

OU: Tell me about participating in the 2018 Olympic Games. What did it mean to you to represent Madagascar at such a big sporting event?
Participating in the Winter Olympic Games was an incredible experience. I will never forget my trip to South Korea to race with the best skiers in the world. Everything was different from the races I’ve been able to do so far — the atmosphere, meeting athletes from all disciplines of winter sports, discovering the country.

It was an honour for me to be the first Malagasy woman to join the Malagasy Ski Federation and to represent Madagascar at the Winter Olympic Games. And to bear the flag was even better! It was unexpected since I did not plan to participate in the Olympic Games at first. But I hope to inspire young Malagasy who wish to reach the highest level in all sports.

Read more.
Reader spotlight 
“Assembly is the only platform where I can read what really needs to be read about girls and their capacity and ability to make change.”
— Wiem, 18, Tunisia

We love meeting our readers and hearing from members of our community. Tell us about yourself or about your ideas for Assembly using our submission form — and you could be featured in a future issue!

Get published in Assembly!
  Assembly publishes original work by girls, for girls. And we would love to include your voice! Send us your ideas and you could be featured in the next issue.
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