Today’s presidential session featured a high profile panel of women committed to improving the lives of girls globally:
Maria Eitel, President and CEO Nike Foundation;
Nyaradzayi Gumbonzvanda, General Secretary, World YWCA;
Reeta Roy, President and CEO, the MasterCard Foundation and;
Dr. Nafis Sadik, Special Adviser to the United Nations Secretary-General
These women provided insight into the importance of focusing on girls, and the ways in which investing in girls benefits entire communities and countries. Although these organizations work in different parts of the world, the themes are crosscutting and nothing short of collaboration on the issue will bring about effective and lasting change.
Check out some of the points raised in the session highlighting why we should celebrate girls and spread the word about the importance of investing in their futures:
- The girls of today are going to be the women of 2030. We need to listen to them because they will determine the agenda. The opportunity to invest in the young girls’ education is nothing short of shifting her trajectory.
- The needs of girls aged 9 through 16 receive the least attention; the assumption is that they fall under discussions about women or youth, but neither is true. We need to specifically reach out to them.
- Young girls are full of hope for their futures, but by 13 years of age, that hope gives way to awareness of the barriers she faces in succeeding like gender based violence and her family’s economic status.
- “Whether girls go to school or not, is not their decision”. We need to engage parents and society at large, because they control whether girls are sent to school.
- Preference in sexuality education almost always given to boys. There is a reluctance to educate women to control their own fertility and make their own decisions regarding sexuality.
- Girls are not only vulnerable, but they are leaders. They are making tough decisions about their lives every day.
- Certain issues are consistent across countries and continents; girls everywhere are asking for Freedom from violence, economic empowerment, education beyond primary level and to have a voice.
- Survival of the fittest: the only way a community survives is through collaboration. This community of people concerned with the welfare of girls needs to collaborate; it’s not one organization or one point of view.
The session closed by asking each of the speakers to recount one of their early childhood memories and what lesson from that experience can be applied to the fight for girls’ rights. Maria Eitel spoke of the overwhelming task of removing weeds from the garden as a child, and learning that the best way to get through it is to focus and take it one at a time. And another lesson learned from her mother taught her that:
we don’t stop until the job is done