It was 3pm on an unsuspecting Friday afternoon when the girls invaded. They shoved their way past the guards, crawled through the entry, through the vent system, and landed smack dab in the middle of the Trusteeship Chamber of the United Nations. This was no childish stunt, however. These girls had a mission: to expand policy and get girls on the agenda. Girls from all over answered the call. Some showed up in person; others sent their voices.
This takeover was a celebration of the fourth annual International Day of the Girl. It was decided in 2011 by the General Assembly that October 11th would be a day of the girls, for the girls, and by the girls; a day to recognize girls’ rights along with the unique challenges that they face around the world.
Voices from girls worldwide were represented at “the takeover.” Akila from Egypt told us about her mother, who married her father when she was 14 and got pregnant at 16. Valentina from Colombia told her story of the domestic violence she witnessed in her own home. Gillian from the United States opened up about her experience as a pregnant teen, who was kicked out of the house. Aria from Brazil told about her experience with sexual harassment during the World Cup. Camilla of Nicaragua told us how she only got an education up until 5th grade while her brothers continued their education long after that. Maya shed some light on the issue of Female Genital Mutilation, which she had to undergo at the age of 5.
There were some pretty important people who got on board with this mission as well. H.E. Mogens Lykketoft, President of the General Assembly, showed his support virtually over the big screen. Ambassador Guillermo E. Rishchynski of Canada, a key influence in putting IDG on the calendar, passionately preached about the importance of educating a girl. Marta Santos Pais, SRSG on Violence Against Children, noted how child marriage was “anachronistic” and should not be an issue of today. Ambassador Gustavo Meza-Cuadra Velasquez said he was awed by the courage of Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai, and he encouraged us all to follow her footsteps and speak out for this cause.
The event was a huge success. It reaffirmed the role that girls play in global politics. It captured the unique stories of girls from all around the world. It empowered attendees to join the movement and take action.
Written by: Rachel Blau, Girls Learn International