Aynura Erejepbaeva is a 17-year-old girl from Shumanay, Uzbekistan. Aynura is proud of her identity as a Karakalpak woman, a pride she inherited from her grandmother. From recounting Karakalpak folklore, to cooking national dishes and teaching traditional embroidery, Aynura’s grandmother taught her the importance of keeping these rich traditions alive.
As her grandmother used to say: ‘Every girl is a root of a big tree; they should be educated.’ Taking these wise words as her motto, Aynura is now a fierce advocate for girls’ education and empowerment.
Aynura still remembers the day she went to the first Computer Science club that had opened in her district; she was terribly excited. However, as she opened the door, she saw a room filled with boys. Feeling out of place, she slowly closed it, saying: ‘Sorry, I got lost.’
Knowing that many girls face similar issues on a daily basis, Aynura came up with her LadyUp project – a safe environment for girls to learn STEM and develop their leadership skills. What started as a club in her school with only a dozen girls, expanded to connect more than forty girls around the globe.
For the Asian Girls in Action Project, Aynura’s goal is to set up a LadyUp School, an in-person program based in her local community for girls aged 11 to 18. Her project aligns with SDGs 4 (“Quality Education”) and 5 (“Gender Equality”).
For a month and a half, Aynura has planned a series of seminars and workshops (including “Growth Mindset vs. Fixed Mindset”, “Choosing a STEM major”), helping girls develop essential communication skills and engage in courses on STEM. Through her project, Aynura wishes to inspire other girls to break societal barriers, teaching them that they have the power to shape their own futures.