There are two things that I believe young girls can never receive enough of: education and encouragement. I think that it is extremely important for women to set an example for today's girls by educating them on the importance of looking out for one another. Not just by supporting girls in their own neighborhoods, but by supporting girls all over the world. Most teen girls have no idea what it would be like to grow up in a developing country, where, according to Girl Up, most girls are married by age 15 and a mother by age 18. But how would they know? It is our responsibility to bring global issues to the attention of young people. Teens are becoming more socially active each day; all we have to do is point them in the right direction.
The United Nations Foundation is doing just that by launching its newest campaign, Girl Up. This initiative encourages American girls to raise awareness and funds for the 600 million adolescent girls living in developing countries. This for-girls, by-girls campaign empowers American girls to make global change. According to Girlup.org, "There are 21 million girls ages 10-19 living in the United States -- more educated, socially connected and empowered today than ever before in history." With this many American girls ready to make a difference, the time is now to get them involved with global initiatives like Girl Up.
The funds raised through Girl Up will support proven United Nations programs that help the hardest-to-reach girls in such countries as Malawi, Ethiopia, Guatemala and Liberia. Campaign supporters are encouraged to give a "High Five" to girls in developing countries by taking five minutes to learn about the issues facing girls or by donating $5 or more to provide girls with such basic needs as access to school supplies, clean water, life-saving health services, safety from violence and more.
The Founding Partners for the campaign are: Camp Fire USA; Girls Inc., Ivanka Trump Fine Jewelry, MTV Networks, National Coalition of Girls' Schools and Women's National Basketball Association.
The Girl Up Global Advocates, Champions and Partners joining the United Nations Foundation include: Her Majesty Queen Rania of Jordan; Dr. Lisa Masterson, medical doctor, television personality and women's advocate; Nigel Barker, renowned fashion photographer, TV personality and author; Victoria Justice, teen actress and singer; and more.
To raise even more funds, Ivanka Trump Fine Jewelry released a signature Girl Up bracelet with 100 percent of the net proceeds benefiting the campaign.
The campaign will even be hitting the road to engage girls on a more personal and interactive level. Girl Up's Unite for Girls Tour launched in New York on Sept. 30th with a Pep Rally at the Vanderbilt YMCA. The tour features an interactive display of girls from around the world and explains how American girls can help make their futures brighter. The Unite for Girls Tour will be visiting five metropolitan areas across the nation in 2010 and traveling to even more locations in 2011.
There are a few things that I really like about this campaign. The most obvious is that it is geared towards educating and empowering young girls. The second is that it has such a strong involvement from prominent role models and media figures. MTVs involvement is always a great way to engage young people and the WNBA has a strong female following, which leads to an increased awareness across multiple platforms.
The vast amount of information on GirlUp.org is also an excellent way to show young people the startling, yet real statistics about their counterparts in other parts of the world. The fact that "one-sixth of the world's young people live on less than $2 a day, including 122 million girls in sub-Saharan Africa who live on less than $1 a day" is truly astonishing. It's important for teens to imagine: what would my life be like if I lived on only $1 each day? These types of realizations make teens want to get involved and take action to help others.
The teen community is a powerful force that actually wants to help make a difference in the world. If we continue to educate young people and engage them in social causes, we will be building towards a future with more socially conscious adults.
If you would like to learn more about Girl Up, visit GirlUp.org.