This is our last HERstory profile for Women’s History Month! To end our HERstory extravaganza, we’re profiling a brilliant chess prodigy, Phiona Mutesi of Uganda!
Phiona grew up in Katwe, Uganda, and has faced plenty of challenges in her life. Her father died when she was a very young girl, and she was taken out of school to help sell maize at the market in order to support her family. In 2005, when she was only nine years old, she met Robert Katende at a local mission, where he was offering food and chess lessons. Phiona accepted, and quickly excelled at the notoriously difficult game - in just a few months, Phiona could beat Katende!
While Phiona has not been formally trained in chess, her natural instinct and ability have made her a formidable force in competition. Her accomplishments are remarkable, given that most chess champions have access to a wide variety of chess resources. At a chess Olympiad just over a year ago, Phiona earned the title of Woman Master Candidate.
Phiona has turned transformed the chess community in Uganda. Before her rise, most chess players in Uganda came from wealthy families. Now, Phiona has proven that chess is not an exclusive sport - anyone can have natural ability.
By celebrating the incredible women we’ve featured for Women’s History Month, we’ve taken the adventure of a lifetime! Through #HERstory, we’ve traveled to space and studied the depths of the ocean. We’ve cooked masterpieces in the White House and hiked the earth’s highest peaks. We’ve danced on Broadway, accepted Oscars, won WNBA basketball games, and reported live from some of the world’s most memorable events. Through it all, we’ve learned that #ItOnlyTakesOne to make a difference!
Photo Credit: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5