On October 11, 2013, as a partner and affiliate of the Brave Girls Alliance, I was incredibly fortunate to travel to New York City to participate in the Girls Speak Out Summit at the United Nations in celebration of the International Day of the Girl.
What is the International Day of the Girl?
On December 19, 2011, with the support of the Canadian Government, the United Nations General Assembly declared October 11th the International Day of the Girl Child. The General Assembly stated that the Day of the Girl would recognize “galvanizing worldwide enthusiasm for goals to better girls’ lives, providing an opportunity for them to show leadership and reach their full potential.” In celebration of this day, the United Nations holds the Girls Speak Out Summit, bringing together girls and girl-serving organizations to share resources, and help advance the Girls’ Rights Movement. October 11, 2013 marked the second annual Day of the Girl Summit.
The Brave Girls Alliance
One of the organizations invited to attend the Girls Speak Out Summit was the Brave Girls Alliance, a global think tank of organizations and individuals dedicated to and passionate about supporting girls’ empowerment and eliminating the sexualization and exploitation of young women in the media. To celebrate the International Day of the Girl, the Brave Girls Alliance raised $25,000 to showcase supportive, proactive, and positive #BraveGirlsWant –themed tweets on ABC’s Disney Digital Billboard in Times Square. The tweets were showcased to run for 7 days, starting on October 11th. The extraordinary women of the Brave Girls Alliance headed to New York City to not only participate in the Girls Speak Out Summit, but to also celebrate these incredible positive messages being flashed for 1.5 million pedestrians per day to see.
The Girls Speak Out Summit
The Girls Speak Out Summit at the United Nations was an absolute dream-come-to to attend. The program included presentations of six girl activists ranging in age from 13 to 17 years old, and from places such as Mozambique, USA, Algeria, Burkina Faso, and Guatemala. Each of these young women brought inspiring and empowering stories to the Summit. Their amazing initiatives focused on topics ranging from early marriage, rights violations, and education of girls to raising money to purchase 60 bikes for girls in the village of Boulsa in Burkina Faso for the sake of safe transportation to school and places far away to get clean water and food for their families. Respondents to each of the girls’ presentations were nine world-renown United Nations representatives who hold titles such as the Ambassador of Turkey, the Deputy Executive Director of UNICEF, the Ambassador of Peru, and the First Lady of Peru.
Why is this important?
While I attended the Girls Speak Out Summit and learned a great deal about the importance of the International Day of the Girl, I am, by no means an expert in this area. However, I did meet a powerful young leader named Katy Ma who knows much more than I do. Katy is currently a senior at Central Buck High School West in Doylestown, Pennsylvania and contributor to the Huffington Post. In her article, “What is the International Day of the Girl Child?” she reports current statistics in support of the need for the International Day of the Girl: on this planet, there are 66 million girls out of school (UNESCO), a girl has a 1 in 4 chance of being born into poverty (The World Bank), and 33 fewer girls than boys are enrolled in primary school (Education First).
My Personal Thoughts
Youth empowerment and youth-led initiatives are two causes I am incredibly passionate about. I firmly believe that youth have the ability and the creativity to change the world and because of this, I try to work with youth as much as I can. It was through MyKindnessCounts that the Brave Girls Alliance kindly contacted me to ask both me and my website to be official partners with their organization. Due to their focus on empowering youth and protecting young girls, I excitedly signed on. I am incredibly grateful that I had an opportunity to attend the Girls Speak Out Summit with the Alliance, and I look forward to supporting the Brave Girls Alliance and the International Day of the Girl for years to come.