Girl delegates at the African Union Summit present the Girl Declaration
Fifty girls from across Africa got their voices heard when they took part in development talks with African leaders at the AU summit in January. Among the girls were Ni Nyampinga journalists, who presented the Girl Declaration to the leaders and influencers.
Student urges moves UK government to fight FGM
17-year-old Fahma Mohamed believes the world can end female genital mutilation (FGM) within a generation and she’s not going to stop until it happens. In February, her petition made the UK government sit up and take notice. Michael Gove, then education secretary, agreed to write to every head teacher in the UK about FGM before the summer holidays – a high-risk time for FGM.
‘Bossy’ gets banned
When Sheryl Sandberg launched #BanBossy it sparked widespread debate about the effect that dismissive language has on the long-term ambition of girls. As well as gaining support from A-listers such as Beyoncé, Ban Bossy campaign saw girls speak up in defence of their leadership qualities on pressing issues such as violence, education and child marriage. It also saw a widespread shift in the way the girls and women were viewed, from the use of language right through to the use of images used to represent them.
The world unites over #BringBackOurGirls
When 276 girls were taken from their school in Chibok, Nigeria in April the world rallied for their safe return. Millions of people around the world used #BringBackOurGirls to show their support and urge the kidnappers to release them. Hard to believe it’s been over 8 months since the girls were taken. We will never lose hope for their return and for all girls to have the right to a safe education.
Millions pledge to end FGM and child marriage at first Girl Summit
In July, the UK hosted the first ever Girl Summit, which saw world leaders commit to increased efforts to ending FGM and child, early and forced marriage within a generation. The all-day Girl Effect Live festival preceded the summit, with artists, poets and singer Jessie J promoting and celebrating girls’ rights to the packed streets of East London.
Emma Watson invites men to join the fight for equality
It’s pretty simple really, if you believe in the social, political and economic equality of the sexes, you’re a feminist.
In a game-changing speech, new UN ambassador Emma Watson redefined feminism, making gender equality desirable for both men and women. Her stirring speech for the #HeForShe solidarity movement got men and women talking about equality, women’s rights and the untapped potential of girls. In response, a 15-year-old boy wrote to the Sunday Telegraph and said: “It’s pretty simple really, if you believe in the social, political and economic equality of the sexes, you’re a feminist.”
Innovation accelerates girls' progress
When you empower a girl, you change a community.
The world’s first business accelerator focused solely on unlocking the potential of girls launched this year. Entrepreneurs and mentors gathered for the Girl Effect Accelerator under the mantra “When you empower a girl, you change a community”. They worked together to share, enhance and upscale business ventures such as getting girls in India using solar-powered lamps to study in the evenings.
The world turns orange for International Day for Elimination of Violence against Women
Countries all over the world marked International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, with buildings including the Empire State Building and the Pyramids of Giza turning orange on 25 November. #16days of activism followed, with thousands talking about violence against girls, something that affects over a third of all girls and women.
Girls are the focus of new multi-million HIV/AIDS initiative
With girls in some areas being twice as likely to contract HIV than men, more focus is needed on prevention within this group. So for the first time, over $200m was committed to stopping the spread of HIV among adolescent girls. Announced on World AIDS Day 2014, the bold initiative is a partnership between the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), the Nike Foundation and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Working together, the aim is to transform girls’ lives and achieve an AIDS-free generation for girls.
Malala wins the Nobel Peace Prize
Rounding off the year nicely, our girl hero Malala Yousafzai collected her Nobel Prize in Oslo on 10 December. In a characteristically moving speech, she spoke on behalf of the 66 million girls not in school. While she had the world’s attention, Malala took the opportunity to launch her new campaign #TheLast.
“Let this be the last time that a girl is told education is a crime and not a right.”
What a year. We’re happy and proud of the huge progress made by girls around the world in 2014. But there’s still plenty to be done next year. 2015 is going to be pivitol as world leaders decide on Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) for the next 15 years. Girls need to be a part of these goals, so as many people as possible need to sign and share the Girl Declaration.