#GirlHero Awards


Meena Harris & Thuso Mbedu to be honored at Girl Up’s 2022 #GirlHero Awards 

The 5th edition of the #GirlHero Awards will celebrate the movement builders, trailblazers & icons who are boldly advocating for gender justice worldwide

  1. Press Release
  2. Gender Justice

In celebration of International Day of the Girl on October 11, Girl Up’s annual #GirlHero Awards honors the young social changemakers and gender justice trailblazers who are passionately using their platforms to create a more equitable world for all. Centered around the theme “Girls: The Heroes we Deserve,” Girl Up’s 5th annual #GirlHero Awards, presented by Pacsun, highlights the collective impact of girls, women, and allies around the world as a force for positive change.

This year’s #GirlHero Awards will recognize founder & CEO of Phenomenal Media and #1 New York Times best-selling author Meena Harris and actress Thuso Mbedu for their work championing inclusive and authentic storytelling, alongside other industry advocates and Girl Up’s growing global Community of transformative youth leaders who are working together to build a gender justice future.

“What an honor to be recognized as one of Girl Up’s 2022 #GirlHero Award recipients. Around the world, from Delhi to Flint to Tehran, I see brilliant, thoughtful, ambitious girls stepping into their power and taking action. It’s humbling to be in conversation with these extraordinary young leaders, and I’m inspired every day by their passion and impact—speaking out against inequality, fighting climate change, and standing up for the rights of women and girls—all at a time of intersecting public health crises, with an ongoing pandemic and alarming new restrictions to abortion care. These are the heroes we deserve, the rising leaders who will build a better world for all of us. They’re already here—and they’re girls,” says Meena Harris.

“It’s an honor to have such an important initiative shine a light on those doing very important and much needed work. Times are changing and the girls here are ensuring that the change is both positive and impactful. To be aligned with them is both humbling and inspiring. They need all the support that can be given. Know them by name,” offers Thuso Mbedu.

During the virtual ceremony, the 2022 #GirlHero honorees will pair up to share their stories and the actionable ways we can all start, build, and sustain our own movements for change in a series of inspiring conversations. Girl Up Champion Monique Coleman will co-host the powerful evening alongside a nominated Girl Up leader, with the event beginning online at 8pm EDT.

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“It’s time to acknowledge that the world needs and deserves girl and women leadership now more than ever to change the course of history. There are countless stories of girls all around the world who have bravely stepped up to move the needle on gender justice and it’s because of their resilience, their intentionality, and their vision of a more equitable future that girls are the heroes we deserve,” says Melissa Kilby, Girl Up Executive Director.

Last year, more than 245,000 viewers around the world tuned in to watch Emmy-nominated actress and equal rights advocate Laverne Cox, two-time Olympic Gold Medalist & FIFA World Cup Champion Abby Wambach, and actress and human rights activist Malia Baker while previous years welcomed other influential icons including Tarana Burke, Shonda Rhimes, and Yara Shahidi.

This event is supported by Kylie Schuyler. Co-chairs of this year’s event include Shelmina Abji, Nigel Barker, Ellen Goldsmith-Vein, Emerald One, Cathie Reid, Shaun Robinson, Pamella Roland, Tracy Shaffer, Leslie and Michael Thorne, and Tina Wells.

Register here to watch the #GirlHero Awards live!

About Girl Up

Girl Up is a girl-centered leadership development initiative working to advance gender justice worldwide. We believe that when girls and women are in positions of leadership, they work to create a more just and equitable world for everyone.

Founded by the United Nations Foundation in 2010, Girl Up operates a global network of regional affiliates and serves 150,000 girls in 130 countries.


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