The Justina Mutale Foundation hosted the International Day of the Girl Summit at Europe House on Friday 28 October in partnership with the National Alliance of Women’s Organisations in commemoration of the 5th Anniversary of the International Day of the Girl. The theme of the Summit was the United Nations theme for 2016: “Adolescent Girls and the Sustainable Development Goals”.
The Hon. Jean Lambert MEP, Green Party Member of the European Parliament delivered the Keynote Address. Other keynote speakers included Professor Chris Imafidon and Justina Mutale, Founder, Justina Mutale Foundation. Two panels then highlighted the realities, challenges, opportunities, and responsibilities in engaging the adolescent girl. Speakers on the first panel were: Neda Salmanpour, Vice Chair, National Alliance of Women’s Organisations; Lucy Russell, Girls’ Rights Campaign Manager at Plan International UK; Rainatou Sow, Founder, Make Every Woman Count (MEWC) and Alice Fookes, volunteer, UN Women.
Neda Salmanpour spoke on the Sustainable Development goals and how they impact the adolescent girl. She explained that if the SDGs are properly implemented they will have a transformative effect, addressing both structural factors such as poverty, inequality and lack of rights and laws, as well as promoting the much needed changes in attitudes, mindsets and beliefs that underline much of the violence that follows from gender inequality and bias. Lucy Russel explained the work of Plan International UK and gave examples of some of their case studies with respect to the girl child. Rainatou Sow highlighted the plight of the African girl child and Alice Fookes discussed education of girls.
There were several presentations on the state of girls around the world. Speakers on the second panel were: Talulla Amedu, 11 Year-Old Gender Activist; Alexandra Ruo-Fan Wang, Politics Student at Kings College and Andrew Chimasa, Founder, IHost Events. They discussed how as young girls they sought to navigate the issues faced by girls in schools and universities.
The Summit concluded with the recommendations that we need to change mindsets to chart a way for women and girls to achieve the equality that is their inherent birth right.