Adwoa Aboah on women's empowerment and her latest project with Nike
At just 27 years old, Adwoa Aboah is already a top model, activist, and founder of the Gurls Talk platform. Aboah is forever making sure her voice is heard, especially when she's talking about causes that are close to her heart, such as equality for all and women's empowerment. She also recently unveiled the Gurls Talk x Made to Play project in collaboration with Nike, which gives scholarships and mentorships to 17 young female athletes from around the world. Here's the opportunity to learn more about what inspires and drives the British supermodel.
In conversation with the model and activist Adwoa Aboah
Could you please tell us some more about your platform, Gurls Talk?
Adwoa Aboah : "So Gurls Talk was a platform that I started back in 2015. It kind of navigates both online and offline. Online, it is through the podcast, the Gurls Talk, our website and Instagram, which is where it initially started. But now, we do our festivals, we do panel discussions, we do poetry slams, and it's kind of become a platform where we collaborate with other people, with girls who have a story to tell. We use it as a place to advocate for free speech, a place to advocate for talking about whatever is going on in your life - whether it be the big or the small - creating a safe space of confidentiality, a judgement-free space where girls can talk about anything from periods to masturbation, to sports, mental health, representation... the list goes on."
Why did you choose to collaborate with Nike for the Gurls Talk x Made to Play project ?
Adwoa Aboah : "It just seemed like a great partnership because of their trust in us to be honest. And by that I mean the creative control that we've been lucky enough to have by working with them. And you know we've done the podcast, we're doing a documentary on female footballers, non-professional, all based around the world. We have a lot of other projects coming up. What was really great about it was that they really took into account how important Gurls Talk is in my life, and what an important part that plays in all the work I do. So although I work with them as a model, Gurls Talk stands as its own thing in terms of the different projects that we do, and I've never worked with a brand like that so that's really cool. Their celebration of women ties in with everything that we stand for. It's come at a brilliant time with the way in which the world is going, and they're not scared to say big things. They're not scared of the red tape, that other brands sometimes feel they have to adhere to. But for the Made to Play fund that we did with Women Win, Gurls Talk and Nike, it is one of the best things we've done really. I mean yesterday was so phenomenal to have some of these girls who have never been on a plane before, girls who had travelled 16 hours from South Africa, Ghana, Turkey, England to come to Paris. And it started as a fund where we were going to support grassroots organizations, that promote sport as a means to start a conversation, a means to help others in less fortunate circumstances, to build their own confidence, to build the girls around them... their confidence. And so we split it up, and we chose about 30 girls, because it's a fact now that girls are twice as likely to drop out of sports as boys are and so that's what we did and they are going to continue what they're doing."
How would you sum up the whole project in three words?
Adwoa Aboah : "Support, confidence, resilience."
What role does sport play in your everyday life ?
Adwoa Aboah: "Sport calms me, it's like my moment where I forget about everything else that's going on, and I get a moment where I don't look at my phone and I train. Boxing played a big part in my life at the beginning because it was just about kind of, a routine, switching off and it being kind of meditative. Sports is really key to mental health, so I try to stick to a really strict routine."
How do you recognize yourself in the 17 girls that were chosen for this project ?
Adwoa Aboah: "That's a good question. I recognize myself in them because I think you know what it is. What I recognize is the responsibility that we all share in building up our communities, and creating a community around us where we feel safe. The responsibility we feel to kind of pass on our message, to pass on our story, and use it for a means of change. And our continuous fight to make a change, and to do something, and to stand up for something, and our resilience. Our resilience of fighting through a lack of self worth, or fighting through insecurities, mental health, all sorts of things.
Who are the committed women that inspire you ?
Adwoa Aboah : "Gemma Munday, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Yara Shahidi, Nadia Nadim, Rihanna, Phoebe Waller-Bridge. "
What is your definition of women's empowerment ?
Adwoa Aboah : "Hope, comradery, and resilience again"
What do you think is the main challenge that women are facing in today's society ?
Adwoa Aboah : "We could go on forever with that one... Abortion rights for one. Migration, and that we are still not being treated the same. As women who live in cosmopolitan cities we may not feel it, but all over the world there are places where women are not being treated the same as a man."
Do you have other Gurls Talk projects in the works ?
Adwoa Aboah : "Currently, we are going to be really concentrating on bringing men in to the conversation on mental health. Men have always been welcome in the rooms of Gurls Talk, you know obviously there are times where we feel the need for a safe space, but I think that now for us to continue with what we want to do, men really have to be brought in to the equation in terms of mental health. You know the writing is on the wall in terms of suicide being one of the leading causes of male death, so that's something that we'll be concentrating on."
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