Happy International Day of the Girl!

Today NAWO would like to celebrate young women and girls all over the world. The International Day of the Girl exists not to limit our actions to one day, but to promote the human rights of young women and girls every day – and act as a catalyst to recognition of the capacity that girls have to contribute to the world around them, if they are not held back by discrimination.

NAWO YWA Advance delegates (and sixth form students) speaking at NAWO’s event, Young Women’s Voices Against Violence in the Houses of Parliament

To celebrate, we wanted to share opportunities for young women and girls to raise their voices and be heard. Here are some resources below that can help to understand why they are currently being held back, as well as ways in which they have and can make change, as well as some of NAWO’s own actions in celebration of this young women and girls.

Our take home message is that girls have huge untapped potential, that we encourage them to use as well as the fact that the rest of society can not afford to continue to overlook them. Have a fantastic International Day of the Girl, and you can tweet us at @NAWOorg and @NAWOYouth with how you’re celebrating, or your thoughts about being or supporting girls today and every day – we’d love to hear them!

Are girls currently held back? And what can be done?

Here is just one example, from UN Women’s focus this year, on girls in crisis and conflict.

                                             

Here’s some other views from our Young Women’s Alliance delegates (and sixth form students!), written as part of #YWAAdvance. Here they share how they feel their childhood was impacted by gender, as well as how empowering girls to speak up is so vital and life changing!

How to Stop Racism Being Used as Another Weapon Against Women by Mei Jayne Yew, YWA Delegate 2016

“Sexism is nothing new to me, with incidents I can link back to the earliest years of my adolescence teaching me that women are regularly targeted solely for being women. It horrifies me that girls from as young as 14 – and even younger – grow up in a world that expects them to submit to men, for something as radical as existing. […]

“… as I walked home from school this week, I was revolted to find myself facing inappropriate questions from a man about when I am to become ‘mature’. When I didn’t conform to his expectations – of politely answering his demeaning questions – and turned around to walk away, I was subject to racial slurs callously thrown at my back.”

Let’s Talk About Sex by Maya Wilson-Autzen, YWA Advance Delegate 2016

“The YWA Advance Parliament event for Violence Against Women and Girls highlighted to me the extensive roots of gender based violence, and the different forms they come in. An overarching conclusion was that education is vital; we must teach our boys and girls the truth about sex and relationships, and equally the effects of porn.”

You can share your story by following the format suggested by Day of The Girl Summit below for their previous competition, and either sharing your post on social media, or emailing it to nawoywa@gmail.com to be posted on our Young Women’s blog!

“Think about girls you know and girls around the world and how they are overcoming the unique challenges they face just because they are girls. Then think about what it’s like where you live. Do or girls like you face unfairness just because you are a girl?  How do you deal with it? How do you overcome it?

“Then, tell us a story about it. How did you – or a girl you know where you live – handle something unfair, unjust or even experienced a crisis, just because she is a girl. …

“We want to hear YOUR story. Your story will inspire others. Your story is like the story of millions of girls around the world who will be empowered by hearing from you. So tell us your story!”

Other NAWO activism during the days of activism for #IDG2017

On Tuesday 10th October, Zarin Hainsworth OBE (Chair of NAWO) gave a speech at Persia Educational Fund’s ‘Wasted Youth’ report launch, on the importance of the Rights of the Child in Iran and how they must be implemented.

Wasted Youth identifies a number of areas in which Iran is failing to live up to its obligations to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, including guaranteeing the rights of children to health, education, and protection from violence. The findings of the report was presented by Small Media’s Research Manager James Marchant, followed by a panel discussion about key children’s rights challenges in Iran today.

Zarin Hainsworth, OBE, was asked to speak as an internationally recognised expert and an advocate for the rights of women and girls. NAWO is proud to have her as its Chair – she consistently advocates for the real empowerment of women of all ages at all levels of power and decision-making, including in NAWO’s work and in her own day to day life.

Three fantastic members of our expert Trustee team, Jackie Jones, Lauren Smith, and Zarin Hainsworth, also met with a government delegation from Malaysia on the same day, continuing to build bridges and start conversations about pragmatic action to empower women and girls of all ages. Jackie and Lauren, like Zarin, are both tireless activists for women’s human rights and ensure that NAWO’s work achieves the best results possible for women and girls across the UK, as well as in our international advocacy.

NAWO strives to ensure that young women and girls’ voices are included in conversations about their rights, which is too rarely the case. We have taken over 100 young women to CSW since our programme began, and our Young Women’s Alliance delegates have given speeches to policymakers in the UK, at the UN and EU and been proponents and makers of change in their own local communities and lives too. From changing sex education policies to fundraising hundreds of pounds in a handful of events; and anti-sexting campaigns to feminist societies; we aim to bring out young women and girls’ inner knowledge and courage, and are consistently blown away with what they have to say and contribute. See our Young Women’s Alliance section for more details.