Tag Archives: WILL

Follow Their Lead

575681_10151915127280851_804282906_nThere are far too few opportunities in today’s world for girls’ voices and stories to be heard. In response to fact that girls today are often undervalued and neglected, the International Day of the Girl serves to highlight and celebrate the power of girls across the globe, and to create new ways of viewing the world and making a difference.

My experience at the Girls Speak Out proved to me how truly powerful girls are. I heard from 16-year-old Claudia about girls issues in Mozambique, Diana about undocumented youth in the USA, Malika and her distribution of bikes to get girls to school in Burkina Faso, Nessrine & Sihem about girls’ education and human rights in Algeria, Sophie about starting a swimming program for girls in Dominican Republic, and Yeimy on girls’ education and political participation in Guatemala.

The diversity that the panel of girls embodied, along with the diversity of the crowd, made the fact that they all came together for a common purpose all the more powerful.

With such diversity, the energy in the room throughout the event made it apparent that, although the International Day of the Girl is only one day, the ideas discussed and energy shared was not going to disappear when the day was done.

_FC73952Members of the UN provided insight and feedback on the girls’ projects. Their presence and support aided in the acceptance and legitimacy of the girls’ work – an official stamp of approval that girls, unfortunately, do not always receive.

Yet, the creation of a space for girls’ voices to be heard remains a powerful reminder of how vital it is to listen to these voices and follow their lead! The Girls Speak Out celebrated the power that girls around the world possess to create change in our local communities.

By: Ashley Van Riper, The College of New Jersey, WILL Program

Open Your Eyes to the Power of Girls

1378814_10202414375980182_1993526764_nAs an executive board member of TCNJ’s curricular and co-curricular Women in Learning and Leadership (WILL) Program, the Girls Speak Out Session at United Nations on the second annual International Day of the Girl was eye-opening.

It was amazing to hear girls from all over the world, as young as 13 and no older than 17, talk about how they are changing their communities. There were girls working on issues such as improving girls’ education, eliminating early marriages, advocating for undocumented youth, encouraging healthy lifestyles, and so much more.

Girls ran the Girls Speak Out, introducing the speakers and the girl activists, ensuring that the day focused on girls.  And in addition to the girl advocates and activists, there were members from the United Nations taking part too – responding to the girls, saying how they could use their positions to help the girls further their projects and help them reach beyond change in their local communities.

1381174_10202414369060009_684025723_nThe day was overwhelmingly inspiring, seeing girls younger than I achieving so much progress.

As a WILL student, someone who is actively trying to better the world (or, at the moment, the TCNJ campus) for girls and women, this experience made me hopeful that our work does have an impact. The girls’ work is encouraging, and it renewed my passion for my work with WILL, as I am now more excited than ever for all of our upcoming events this year.

The Girls Speak Out was a wonderful experience, and I was humbled to be in the same room with such powerful, driven, poised girls.

By: Erin Shannon, The College of New Jersey, WILL Program