Kirsten Soney-Ituen is a student of Gaelcholáiste Cheatharlach
Kirsten Soney-Ituen from Gaelcholáiste Cheatharlach in Carlow stood out from over 150 entries to reach the final of the national ActionAid Speech Writing Competition.
The increasingly popular competition, now in its fifth year, received entries from students aged 14 to 17, from almost 50 schools across the country. This was the highest number of entries to date.
Kirsten is one of ten finalists selected to deliver their speech at the final in Dublin's Royal Irish Academy on March 20.
ActionAid provides long term support to the poorest and most marginalised women and children in developing countries, so they can overcome the obstacles holding them back.
Their Women's Rights programme, funded by Irish Aid, works to eliminate violence against women and girls by engaging with women, men and girls to.
The programme has been very successful to date, for example in communities in Kenya, female genital mutilation amongst girls has decreased by almost a third.
Gender inequality is a fundamental barrier to achieving sustainable development and improving the lives of young people around the world.
Every ten minutes, somewhere in the world, an adolescent girl dies as a result of violence, according to the UNFPA in 2014.
ActionAid has created the competition as a platform for young people to offer their contribution to achieving gender equality.
The finalists will have the task of delivering their speech based on one of three topics relating to women's rights to a panel of esteemed judges.
The quality of entries was very high and choosing the top ten finalists proved to be a very difficult decision.
CEO of ActionAid Ireland, Siobhán McGee, said: "The competition is an exciting way for young people to voice their opinion on issues that matter to them.
"Each year we have been greatly impressed by the quality of speeches we receive from Carlow, and this year was no exception.
"It is clear that a huge effort has gone into each speech, and it was very difficult to choose our finalists. We’re looking forward to hearing Kirsten's speech at the final."
The two winning students will travel with their teachers to Greece this summer, where they will have the unique opportunity to see ActionAid's work first hand.
In Greece, ActionAid's work focuses on economic empowerment of women refugees and migrants.