As we celebrate International Women’s Day, we honor the women in our lives and our world who inspire us most – the women who push us to dream bigger, reach higher, and work harder. There are so many female visionaries, political leaders, CEOs, and changemakers who have helped make progress for girls and women around the world. And today, I’d like to introduce you to a few more who you may not have heard of (yet):
Sixteen-year-old Rebecca Ruvalcaba. Seventeen-year-old Ruhy Patel. Fourteen-year-old Thandiwe Diego.
All of these young women are Girl Up Teen Advisors, and they have shaped my life and the lives of girls around the world.
Girl Up Teen Advisors are a very special group of young women. Now in our fifth class, I’ve met and witnessed 100 remarkable girls grow into strong and accomplished young women – teens who go on to achieve extraordinary things in their education, secure fellowships and internships across different sectors and disciplines, and serve as leaders in their communities and beyond. These are girls who have found and strengthened their voices through their passion and our program.
Girl Up was built from the motto “for girls, by girls.” We work every day for girls by raising money for United Nations programs and raising our voices to advocate for policies that directly target girls. On the back of all this work, and at the heart of our campaign, is a group of young leaders – girls like Rebecca, Ruhy, and Thandiwe – who make sure this campaign is run by girls. We involve these girls’ voices in the development of our programs because they deserve to be heard, listened to, and given the chance to lead.
These Teen Advisors are special and full of potential, but they are not alone. In my work with Girl Up, I’ve met girls around the world who possess this same specialness and potential. The problem is that not all girls have access to the same opportunities they need to thrive and grow into the leaders they ache to become.
So, what world do I picture for girls and women in 2030? In 2030, I want to see a world where all girls have a platform, a megaphone, and a role in leading this world into a better future; a world where there is equal access to education, regardless of gender; a world where all girls are able to be active participants in their communities; and a world where all girls are healthy and empowered.
And in 2030, I want to see a world where we don’t have to talk about “gender equality” anymore because it has already been realized.
There are “Teen Advisors” living in countries around the world. Let’s work to find the leader in every girl, everywhere. Let’s unite to help unlock all this potential and unlock these girls’ voices so that we can achieve a more peaceful, prosperous future for everyone in 2015, in 2030, and far beyond.