“Uniting Girls to Change the World”

UN Foundation’s Girl Up Leadership Summit

Held June 10-12, 2013 at the SunTrust Bank Headquarters, 1445 NW, Washington, DC

The UN Foundation hosted its 2nd annual Girl Up leadership summit June 10-12, 2013, bringing together more than 100 girls and other supporters from across the U.S to discuss pressing issues relating to girls and the entire advocacy movement. Making girls count in every aspect of government and community initiatives was the central focus of this year’s summit, with participants learning the basics of how to advocate using social media campaigns and other tools to tackle the global issue. Most of the girls (and few boys) in attendance were between the ages of 15- 23, and were either members of Girl Up clubs in their high schools or colleges, or Girl Up “champions” for online campaigns. Kathy Calvin, President and CEO of UN Foundation, formally launched the summit on day one and congratulated the effort of each and every girl present for her passion to the global cause. She also thanked partners and organizations who were engaged in similar programs to help young women around the world. She lauded their continual perseverance not to give up until something is done to improve the life of every single girl.  Ms. Calvin reminded participants that girls and young women are “the fastest growing segments of the population in developing countries, and their health and welfare is fundamental to creating and maintaining strong economies and healthy communities.” The three day summit was jammed packed with motivational talks from more than thirty five speakers, ranging from high panel statesmen and women, to non-profit entrepreneurs and CEOs, celebrities and journalists, and young people themselves. Much of the issues discussed centered on formulating strategies that will effectively and urgently call governments’ attention to critical issues affecting adolescent girls in developing countries. Better health care systems, safety, and educational reform were few of the many topics highlighted. The participants, very true and passionate to this cause, even met with their states’ congressmen and women at the capital and presented their petition at the close of the summit. Liberia, Malawi, Ethiopia and Guatemala were developing countries especially mentioned during the event.

The summit’s organizers did a very good job in balancing each day’s agenda to give the largely youthful participants the benefit of both fun activities (yoga and boxing!) as well as educational opportunities (panel discussions and smaller break-out group sessions) in order to grow and become more knowledgeable on the foundation’s works, and the programs that the Girl Up movement is currently involved in to make every girl count.

The most inspirational moments of the summit were probably the most essential. Stronger networks were built, newer friendships were formed, and updated reasons to continue the advocacy until the life of every adolescent girl across the globe is improved, were reechoed.

Conclusion from the Girl UP summit and the participants resolve?: “It’s not over until it’s over!”