Female Genital Mutilation

Empowering adolescent girls: Ending the cycle of violence

Most young girls know Monique Coleman as Taylor Mckessie from Disney’s High School Musical franchise but yesterday they had the chance to see her in a more professional light. Miss Coleman played her role as champion for UN Foundation’s Girl Up campaign by hosting a live Google+ Hangout with U.S. Ambassador for Global Women’s Issues Cathy Russell, Dr. Anju Malhotra and groups of women around the world including the embassies in Cairo, Katmandu and Jakarta and the School of Leadership in Afghanistan! I had the opportunity to tune in and it was truly inspiring to hear these powerful women speak on the issues that women and girls face globally. We actually got to see and hear from some of the ladies watching in the embassies as well! Hearing testimony from these women, one who shared what life if like for a young girl who begins to menstruate, was heart breaking yet inspiring to see this woman be empowered by the pain she endured to help prevent it from happening to other girls. Pain is indeed one of our most powerful catalysts.

“The Unites States makes the empowerment of women and girls a priority, not only because we believe it’s the right thing to do which obviously it is,” says Ambassador Russell, “but because, the fact is that countries where girls are empowered do better than countries where they aren’t treated equally. These countries are more stable, they’re more secure and their economy’s are better and that frankly is in the interest of the United States and the whole international community.”

The theme this year for International Day of the Girl Child is “Empowering adolescent girls: Ending the cycle of violence.” Below are some startling facts they shared:

  • One in three girls in the developing world is married by the time she is 18. 
  • 700 million current living women were married as children.
  • 250 million girls live in poverty.
  • Every year, three million girls are at risk for female genital mutilation/cutting on the African continent alone.
  • 62 million girls worldwide are out of school.

“At UNICEF we are looking to have a girls movement. We are looking for girls to join together across the world and claim their stake in where the world is going. Next year the world is going to set 15 year goals, the millennium developing goals are going to end and a new set of goals are going to be created. We want girls to be at the center of those goals and we look at you for making sure that they are,” concludes Dr. Anju Malhotra.

When I read these statistics I know I am on the right path to making the world a better place! You can do your part by supporting #GIRLHERO, a digital movement launched by Girl Up to recognize and celebrate girls. Post a photo on social media of a girl who inspires you and tag her. That girl has now been challenged to pass it forward and share who inspires her. I already know who I am going to tag, who inspires you?

If you weren’t able to catch the Hangout live, catch the footage for yourself now.