By Anna Blue and Melissa Kilby
Girl Up celebrates our nine-year anniversary on September 30, 2019. That’s nine years of girl power, 108 months of international activism, 469 weeks of relentlessly chipping away at the patriarchy. Every single minute of every day since 2010, our girl changemakers have been working tirelessly to promote and defend gender equality.
We’re not the same Girl Up we were nine years ago. Our girls have since gone global, changing laws, changing minds, and changing their communities for the better with this movement. As we’ve grown, we’ve learned what it really means to be a girl in the world today; thanks to our Club members – the girls who are leading the way – a we have a deeper understanding of gender and the many ways it intersects with areas of life we sometimes view as separate. To commemorate this big birthday, we picked 9 of our favorite moments and milestones that show the world the true power of girls.
1. Girl Up has inspired and mobilized 58,000 girl leaders
When we launched our Club program in the fall of 2011, we had 25 clubs. Today, we have 3,300 Clubs around the world – that’s 58,000 girls who are learning how to organize, advocate, fundraise, and tell their stories.
2. We’re in 120 countries…and counting!
When we first launched, our mission was to engage girls in the United States, but we quickly saw our Club program take off internationally. By the end of our first year, Girl Up had Clubs in 10 countries. Today, we’re a global movement with Clubs are in nearly 120 countries around the world with resources in six languages.
3. We’re making history
Girls in this movement are creating the change they want to see in the world, starting in their local communities. Our girl leaders have successfully advocated to increase the safety of girls on college campuses. They’ve raised their voices and shared their knowledge and stories to that change the perception of the value of girls in communities around the world. They’ve met with and testified before local elected officials to push for legislation that advances the rights of girls. In fact, they’ve got a track record of policy impact around the world:
- In 2012, Girl Up supported United Nations and NGO efforts to ensure the passage and implementation of the Liberian Children’s Law.
- In 2015, our community of partners and supporters in Malawi helped girls stand up against child marriage.
- In 2015, Malawi passed a law which raises the legal age of marriage from 15 years old to 18 years old.
- In the U.S., thanks to the advocacy of Girl Up supporters, the Girls Count Act became law and made it a priority to encourage countries to ensure all girls and boys are provided birth certificates.
- In 2019, the Protecting (Refugee) Girls’ Access to Education bill was signed into law in the U.S.
4. We’ve raised more than $10 million for girls around the world
Our girl changemakers have raised millions of dollars to support 48,000 girls through UN partners in Malawi, Guatemala, Liberia, Ethiopia, India, and Uganda that help girls avoid child marriage, gain access to healthcare and education, and have a chance at a brighter future. That’s what happens when girls rise together!
5. Our Leadership Summits connect our global movement
We held our first Leadership Summit in 2012; one day of programming in Washington, DC for 80 girls. Last year, Girl Up’s Leadership Summits in the Washington, DC, Mexico City, and London brought together 600 girls.
6. We’re closing the gender gap in STEM!
In 2015, Girl Up was part of the Women in Science (WiSci) Girls STEAM Camp held in partnership with the U.S. Department of State. Last year, Girl Up launched our STEM for Social Good curriculum aimed at closing the gender gap in STEM and helping young STEMinists create solutions to pressing issues with math, science, and technology. As of 2019, more than 500 girls from 20 countries have participated in 8 WiSci Girls STEAM Camps help around the world, and more than 50 girl changemakers have identified STEM-based solutions to social issues in their communities.
7. We’ve provided 2,000 bikes to girls through SchoolCycle
Through our SchoolCycle program, Girl Up helped eliminate one of the biggest obstacles keeping girls out of school: distance. With a bike, she can obtain the education she needs to create a better future. To date, we’ve provided nearly 2,000 bikes to girls in Malawi and Guatemala to go to school.
8. We made new friends along the way
What do Monique Coleman, Nigel Barker, Victoria Justice, Priyanka Chopra, Cara Delevingne, Katherine McNamara, Wade Davis, Rebecca Soni, and Brooklyn and Bailey McKnight all have in common? They’re all Girl Up Champions who use their platform to speak up for gender equality.
First Lady Michelle Obama has joined us onstage along with United Nations Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights Kate Gilmore, Ashley Graham, Yara Shahidi, Little Miss Flint, Liz Plank, Marley Dias, Adwoa Aboah, Shay Mitchell, and Scarlett Curtis.
9. We’re 1 million strong!
In our first year, we hit 100,000 Facebook followers (and Instagram wasn’t even around yet). We’ve been amazed to see our online community of social followers and email subscribers grow to nearly 1 million strong.
We’re proud of our global movement of changemakers whose passion, dedication, and commitment makes the world a better place for every girl, everywhere. We’re compelled to continue the fight against gender inequalities rooted in the idea that girls can’t. We can, we did, and with your support, we’ll keep on doing. Because when girls rise, we all rise.