Girl Up Brasil staff in front of Brasil's parliament

Estimated reading time: 6 minutes

Finally, the outcome. In Brazil, the months that brought us to the presidential elections felt like 20 thousand years. But here at Girl Up Brasil, what we see is the beginning of an era.

2022 is the year in which Girl Up Brasil formalized itself as an affiliate, bringing organizational decision-making to local lands after four years building trust and solid impact alongside our friends from Girl Up headquarters. We got here in early 2018, excited to test the effectiveness of programs that were already elevating girls in the US and around the world. It is no coincidence that it took us four years – a complete electoral cycle in Brazil – for Girl Up Brasil to mature to the point of starting its solo flight: what we found here was a generation of incredibly powerful girls, who have already begun to do politics with their own hands.

Our first 100% Brazilian project, the #YourVoteMatters campaign, was already an idea in 2018. Voting is mandatory in Brazil, but optional for 16 and 17-year-olds. Girl Up Brasil saw this as an opportunity for political incidence, and presented it on our first prospective report to Girl Up headquarters. In 2020, the pandemic sabotaged our plan to pilot the campaign in São João Evangelista, a city nestled in north-central Minas Gerais state that concentrated a strong group of Girl Up leaders and a population small enough to have few voters changing the midterm elections results. 

That year, in a hurry and without a budget, we did what we love to do: we sat down with the girls to plan and execute the new route. The videos and memes we created with them to invite youth to register to vote had impressive reach, having been organically shared by influential names like TV host Luciano Huck and journalist Ana Paula Padrão. By the time 2022 knocked our door, the conversation about elections was already bringing up the issue of segmented voter turnout, a topic that had gained strength in the public debate with the American elections. It was crucial to get the young people – the girls especially – to vote. Having believed in the power of youth civic engagement since its birth, Girl Up Brasil already knew what to do.

#YourVoteMatters helped us raise funds no one could expect for an organization’s inaugural year. The Brazilian context pushed us to be giants in the first year of independence. Always building together with Girl Up leaders – but this time, with much more planning and resources – we managed to deliver a festive, memetic campaign. The voice of the girls, fearless, fun and daring, helped us reach millions of young people, showing politics less as a space of responsibility (which it is) and more as an inspiring and passionate action (which it also is, and will be even more).

Girl Up leader Nathaly Shige interviews Marina Silva, one of Brazil’s leading environmentalists and Minister of Environment from 2003 to 2008

It is said that when a woman enters politics, the woman changes, but that when many women enter politics, politics changes. Politics in Brazil is now going to change, because 2022 was the youngest election in history, and also the election of girls. Among teenagers who have registered to vote – entering politics by choice – 55% are girls, another historic record. Through #YourVoteMatters, Girl Up Brasil drove more than 90,000 visits to the Brazilian Electoral Court’s register-to-vote platform. In the months that followed, we have created election-related content with partners like Instagram and the Electoral Court itself. In partnership with Girl Up Brasil, Capricho, the largest youth content platform in Latin America and Brazil’s first women’s magazine, with its 70 years, made its first coverage of politics in these elections. We are proud to say, and we say hand in hand with hundreds of girls: we have made history!

It is not possible to tell how we got here without mentioning the solid work of Girl Up Brasil leaders regarding menstrual dignity. Dozens of bills, the overthrow of a presidential veto and the first major appearance of the topic in traditional media – after which Google searches never returned to the previous level – left no doubt: the path towards social justice cannot be traveled without them. 

There’s still an infinite to be done, and we are going to do it. There is a forest to be saved, reason why this year Girl Up Brasil has decided to embrace the topic of climate change. All of us in the team went to study, and, in parallel, we promoted a series of conversations between our girl leaders and some of the most qualified professionals in the country when it comes to the Amazon and climate. As always, these trainings were tied to action. In this case, the bill of popular initiative Amazônia de Pé, articulated by dozens of partner organizations we allied to in a national campaign that intends, by the end of 2023, to have collected 1.5 million signatures, necessary for Brazilian Congress to discuss the bill. And in the next few days, we’ll be flying to Egypt, where Girl Up girls will cover the biggest climate conference in the world, COP27, through Capricho magazine. There is no progress on gender issues without fighting climate change.

We will closely follow these months of power transition in our country, with the certainty that the Girl Up leaders are part of this change. Many of them have already found their will to be elected representatives. The sparkle in their eyes when they tell us is of indescribable beauty. We will continue to fuel their dreams, connecting each other so that, together, they know their power. We will bet more and more on the leadership model they teach us every day, training more passionate, loving and tireless leaders. We celebrate the inevitable future in which they will be in our legislative houses, behind the scenes at the political seams, in ministries. That future has already begun, and it is for all of us. Like we always say: when girls rise, we all rise.

Follow Girl Up Brasil’s journey on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, and TikTok!

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