Teen supporters of the United Nations Foundation’s Girl Up campaign (girlup.org) took part in the White House International Women’s Day Reception with First Lady of the United States Michelle Obama. The reception, which marked the 100th anniversary of International Women’s Day, highlighted Girl Up’s mission to empower and educate girls to change the world.
In addition to the First Lady, Girl Up Teen Advisor Shannon McNamara spoke during the East Wing reception, sharing the Girl Up “for girls, by girls” message, and encouraging attendees to engage American youth in the effort to support girls in developing countries.
“Today celebrates not only women’s rights, but the rights of every person whose life has been changed by a women,” said McNamara. “I have seen firsthand in Tanzania and around the world that investing in women and girls is the best investment you could possibly make. When women become leaders, the world is safer…Thank you for supporting our causes and helping girls. Because while we are strong, together we are stronger. Just think of the good we could all do together.”
Mrs. Obama told attendees, “Time and again, we have seen that countries across the globe are more prosperous, they’re more peaceful when women are more equal and have the rights and opportunities they deserve. And that is why women and girls are a core focus of America’s engagement with the world, including our diplomatic and development work, and our work to prevent and respond to conflict.”
“Our national leadership understands that by investing in girls we invest in our collective future, and our youth are stepping up to do their part with Girl Up,” added Elizabeth Gore, Executive Director, Global Partnerships of the UN Foundation. “That connection between the vision of our country’s leaders and that of our youth leaders became so clear as First Lady Michelle Obama congratulated our Teen Advisors for their work with Girl Up and gave each of them a ‘High Five.’”
Through Girl Up’s support, girls around the world will have the opportunity to become educated, healthy, safe, counted, and positioned to be the next generation of leaders. Funds raised through Girl Up support United Nations programs that help the hardest-to-reach girls in such countries as Ethiopia, Guatemala, Liberia, and Malawi. Campaign supporters are encouraged to give a “High Five” to girls in developing countries by taking five minutes to learn about the issues facing girls or by donating $5 or more to provide girls with such basic needs as access to school supplies, clean water, life-saving health services, safety from violence and more.
Quick Facts about Girls
• More than half of the world’s 1.5 billion young people (ages 10-25) are adolescent girls living in developing countries.
• Girls make up more than 50% of the world’s 143M out-of-school youth.
• 1 in 7 girls in the developing world is married before the age of 15.
• Up to 50% of girls in developing countries become mothers before the age of 18.
• In some countries, girls spend up to 15 hours a day obtaining water for their families and villages.
• 1/6 of the world’s young people live on less than $2 a day, including 122 million girls in sub-Saharan Africa who live on less than $1 a day
• There are 21 million girls ages 10-19 living in the United States, and they are more educated, socially connected and empowered than ever before in history.
Shannon McNamara, 17, serves on the Girl Up Teen Advisory Board and is happy to be part of the Girl Up campaign. She is a senior at Ridge High School, in Basking Ridge, New Jersey. Three years ago she founded a nonprofit organization, SHARE (Shannon’s After-school Reading Exchange) to empower girls in Africa through education. She has traveled the last three summers to Tanzania to work on SHARE. During the school year McNamara spreads awareness for SHARE by speaking to organizations across the country about the plight of the African girls. She also promotes youth involvement and mobilizes kids her age to support SHARE’s efforts.
McNamara has been a Girl Scout for 12 years. She serves as a National Girl Scout Consultant, and throughout the year works with the National Board of Directors and staff at Girl Scouts USA. Prior to her service work in Africa, McNamara volunteered in Peru, Costa Rica, and India. She is a member of the National Honors Society and runs Cross Country for her school. She has lived overseas twice (Ireland and New Zealand) and continues to be an avid traveler.
WhiteHouse.gov provides both video and a transcript of Michelle Obama’s remarks during the White House International Women’s Day Reception. Shannon spoke on camera prior to the reception about the importance of International Women’s Day. The video is available at www.youtube.com/girlupcampaign.
About Girl Up
Girl Up, a campaign of the United Nations Foundation, gives American girls the opportunity to channel their energy and compassion to raise awareness and funds for programs of the United Nations that help some of the world’s hardest-to-reach adolescent girls. Through Girl Up’s support, girls have the opportunity to become educated, healthy, safe, counted and positioned to be the next generation of leaders. Campaign supporters are encouraged to give a “High Five” to girls in developing countries by donating $5 or more to provide girls with such basic needs as access to school supplies, clean water, life-saving health services, safety from violence and more. Founding campaign partners include MTV Networks, National Coalition of Girls’ Schools, Women’s National Basketball Association, Ivanka Trump Fine Jewelry, Girls Inc., and Camp Fire USA. Go to GirlUp.org to learn more.
About the United Nations Foundation
The United Nations Foundation, a public charity, was created in 1998 with entrepreneur and philanthropist Ted Turner’s historic $1 billion gift to support UN causes and activities. We build and implement public/private partnerships to address the world’s most pressing problems, and work to broaden support for the UN through advocacy and public outreach. Through our campaigns and partnerships, we connect people, ideas, and resources to help the UN solve global problems. These campaigns focus on reducing child mortality, empowering women and girls, creating a new energy future, securing peace and human rights, and promoting technology innovation to improve health outcomes. These solutions are helping the UN advance the eight global targets known as the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). For more information, visit www.unfoundation.org.