For Girl Up, the end of 2016 marks the end of another year spent working towards our vision of a future where every girl can change the world. For all of us, 2016 was full of ups and downs and awesome successes. But we could not be more proud of what we were able to accomplish for girls across the world, and none of it would have been possible without the powerful, compassionate, and capable girls and boys, women and men who have supported us every step of the way.
As we prepare to bid farewell to this year, we thought that we would recap some of Girl Up’s most awesome moments of 2016. To all of the girls out there, thank you for inspiring and informing each and every one of these moments.
1) We announced our newest focus country Uganda and made a commitment to stand #WithRefugees
As the result of widespread instability in the region, Uganda is currently home to more than 400,000 refugees and internally displaced people. About 27% of these displaced people are girls under the age of 18. This huge influx has put a massive amount of pressure on an already strained school system. The result? Thousands of refugee girls are now out of school.
At Girl Up we firmly believe that equal access to education is a basic human right, and we understand just how critically important it is that every girl have the opportunity to go to school. That’s why we decided to partner with UNHCR to support their work with refugees in Uganda. And thanks to our funding partner the Caterpillar Foundation, we are now working alongside UNHCR to ensure that refugee girls are enrolled and remaining in school by paying school fees, providing uniforms and textbooks, building new schools, and employing and training more teachers- especially female teachers!
Are you ready to have an impact? Our work has just begun! Check out our work in Uganda, and join us by standing #WithRefugees in 2017.
2) We convened an international community of girls at our WiSci STEAM Camp in Peru!
We held our second annual WiSci STEAM Camp in Peru and were joined by 97 campers from Peru, Chile, Mexico, and the United States. For two weeks, we worked together as a global community to discuss and take action towards closing the gender gap in STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts, mathematics). Girls engaged with a curriculum that included website design, robotics, renewable energy, and technovation. At the end of their two weeks at camp, girls created and presented 24 team projects, and collaborated with one another on how STEAM fields can have social impacts!
Every girl came to camp with a different background and a unique story to tell, but they all had a few things in common, a passion for STEAM, a heart for gender equality, and the ambition to make an impact!
3) We hosted our 5th annual Leadership Summit, and it was the BEST yet!
The Girl Up Leadership Summit took Washington D.C. by storm this summer when we hosted 300 inspiring girl leaders for three jam-packed days of skills and leadership training, relationship building, high-level advocacy, and a whole lot of fun! We heard from distinguished speakers like Rosie Rios and Kate Gilmore, as well incredible girl leaders like Yara Shahidi who have proven that girls really are changing the world!
But we didn’t just talk the talk! On the last day of the Summit, we walked the walk and took our passion to Capitol Hill, where we lobbied our Congresswomen and men (a whopping 61 of them to be exact!) to ensure that we could count on their support in expanding access to education for refugee girls. Our girls held 152 meetings in the Capitol, making this our biggest lobby day on record! Now that’s what we call girl power!
4) What better way to celebrate International Women’s Day than talking girls’ education with First Lady Michelle Obama?
On International Women’s Day, Girl Up teen leaders headed to the White House, where they discussed girls education with First Lady Michelle Obama! After their private meeting, the girls traveled down the streets of D.C. in the First Lady’s motorcade to join in a Let Girls Learn event. While at the event, the girls heard from U.S. Ambassador to the UN Samantha Power who spoke brilliantly about the status of girls’ education around the world.
We all left feeling honored, inspired, and ready to keep on fighting until every girl has the right and opportunity to receive a quality education!
5) We celebrated our #GIRLHERO(es) on International Day of the Girl!
This year we once again asked our supporters to participate in our #GIRLHERO campaign by sharing stories and photos and celebrating their own #GIRLHERO across all social media! Well, there sure must be a whole lot of inspiring women and girls out there because our campaign reached 8 million people through social media alone! Yeah that’s right… we said million!
#GIRLHERO(es) like Monique Coleman, Karlie Kloss, Marne Levine, and Marley Dias also joined the conversation by sharing their own #GIRLHERO stories on their own social media channels!
Finally, we were THRILLED to announce our newest #GIRLHERO and champion, actress Cara Delevingne, who recently created a super cool and feminist-y t-shirt just for Girl Up!