International Day of the Girl is October 11! All month long, we are celebrating our #girlheroes – the Girl Up changemakers who are fighting for gender equality and smashing the patriarchy in their communities. Whether it’s testifying to combat child marriage or providing safe spaces for sexual assault survivors, they’re proving youth are the leaders of today!
Danielle, 15 | Sydney, Australia
1 in 3 girls and women will experience gender-based violence in their lifetime. When 15-year-old Girl Up Club member Danielle learned about the prevalence of gender-based violence where she lives in Sydney, Australia, she didn’t wait for someone else to take action.
Using her Girl Up training, Danielle and her Club started an initiative called Believe Survivors – a website that is not only a platform for survivors to share their stories, but also provides free resources to help sexual assault survivors navigate the legal system. Danielle and her Club members even received a STEM grant from Girl Up to help launch the website!
“Reporting and conviction rates of assault are incredibly low in my country. The nature of legal literacy is intrinsically undemocratic. I hope our new initiative helps survivors access resources and feel less alone.” – Danielle
Niharika, 13 | New Delhi, India
More than 80% of gen Z girls globally believe that being given equal access to STEM education is important, but only 29% feel they have opportunities in STEM.
The gender gap in STEM is real, and it’s being felt by girls around the world. But Niharika, a Girl Up Club leader from New Delhi, India isn’t worried about statistics because she is already defying them. At the age of 13, Niharika has already invented a low-cost air purifier with her Club.
Using Girl Up’s STEM for Social Good resources and human-centered design training, Niharika and her Club in New Delhi are engineering air purifiers that can be used in homes, local shelters, and schools. Niharika was inspired to create these high-quality, low-cost air purifiers to lessen the health risks in her community due to poor air quality in the city. Now THAT is using STEM for social good!
Sungyoon, 17 | Marriotsville, Maryland, USA
Globally, 1 in 5 girls will be married before the age of 18. When 17-year-old Sungyoon, a Club leader from Maryland learned child marriage was happening near her home in Maryland, she didn’t take it sitting down.
With her Girl Up Club, Sungyoon testified before the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee to pass a bill that would raise the minimum marriage age, and their petition to Maryland Delegates and Senators garnered over 750 signatures!
Sungyoon’s advocacy to prohibit child marriage in her state was made possible by the Girl Up advocacy toolkits, bootcamps, and resources that give girls the tools to be changemakers.
“It was shocking and disturbing to read child marriage stories that were occurring in my own state of Maryland. Without joining Girl Up, I would not have been able to meet and lead such a group of passionate and strong girls, and I would not have been able to become the advocate that I am today – and for that, I am forever thankful.” – Sungyoon
Vanessa, 17 | Columbia, South Carolina, USA
“Sports have always been a substantial part of my upbringing,” says Vanessa, 17, Girl Up Teen Advisor and athlete from South Carolina. Through sports, Vanessa learned leadership, collaboration and teamwork.
She also learned that only 5% of sports media coverage features female athletes and women’s sports, there’s a staggering gender pay gap, and in many parts of the world, there’s a staggering lack of access and opportunity for women to even take the field.
When she realized the barriers that exist for girls and women in sports, Vanessa decided to use her platform to advocate for female athletes and increased opportunities for girls in sports.
“Seeing how even the USA women’s national soccer team was constantly being undervalued for their consistent successes opened my eyes to the blatant gender inequality in sports. Instead of being silent about their pay gap, the team continues to speak up, demands to be equally paid, and does not let up the fight for change.” – Vanessa
We want to hear YOUR story: share your #girlhero, why they inspire you & challenge 3 friends to tag their #girlheroes too!
Donate today to support a #girlhero!
Naomi Naik is the Communications & Digital Media Associate for Girl Up and leads digital strategy for the organization.