Top Five Moments for Girls in 2015

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Birth Registration , Child Marriage , Education , Safety and Violence

2015 was a historic year for girls. Girls around the world fought harder than ever and we made an awesome amount of progress in protecting the rights and needs of girls everywhere. And in September, Girl Up celebrated its five year anniversary – an important milestone that gave us the opportunity to reflect on the remarkable impact we’ve been able to make in just a short period of time.

As a Girl Up Teen Advsior, here are my top five moments for girls in 2015:

  1. The Girls Count Act passed

Something amazing happened on June 12, 2015. After two long, hard years of advocacy, Congress unanimously passed the Girls Count Act – and just a few days later, President Obama signed it into law.Millions of girls around the world have no birth certificate or weren’t registered at birth.

In fact, according to UNICEF, 4 out of every 10 children are not registered at birth. When a girl doesn’t have a birth certificate she is virtually invisible to her government, which can prevent her from going to school, getting a job and accessing health and social services. Girl Up clubs around the country hosted letter writing parties, called their members of Congress and hosted countless meetings with their representatives. We even took more than 200 young leaders to Capitol Hill for two days to persuade Congress to support this bill.

While the journey was long, the passing of the Girls Count Act is a testament to the power of our collective motivation and determination. And, more than anything, this is a huge win for the countless girls — and boys — around the world that this bill will help support.

  1. Governments around the world moved the needle on protecting and expanding girls’ and women’s rights

While we have not ended child marriage or gotten every girl into school, we have made progress – and in 2015, governments from all corners of the world made important decisions that positively impact the lives of girls and women.In February, Malawi passed The Marriage, Divorce and Family Relations Bill which raised the legal marriage age from 16 to 18, a huge step towards ending child marriage.​ In August, Saudi Arabian women were given the opportunity to participate as voters in elections for the first time. And in November, Guatemalan legislators passed a law raising the country’s minimum age of marriage for girls from 14 to 18.

Girl Up played a critical role in the legislation that passed in Malawi and Guatemala – directly funding programs that supported girl-led advocacy around increasing the legal age of marriage in both countries.

  1. The world set a new global development agenda

In September the United Nations officially introduced the Sustainable Development Goals; a set of 17 goals the UN and nearly 200 member countries have committed to achieving by 2030. For those fighting for gender equality we got our very own goal, Goal 5, which aims to achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls. Girls and adolescents were also woven throughout many other goals and their targets – from promoting gender parity in education, to ending child marriage, to halting the practice of FGM – showing just how important it is to help girls have their rights realized

  1. The Let Girls Learn initiative launched, prioritizing girls’ access to education globally

In March of this year, President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama launched the Let Girls Learn initiative to ensure that girls worldwide can get an education. Through the Peace Corps, USAID, U.S. Department of State, and Millennium Challenge Corporation, barriers for adolescent girls are being knocked down. Girl Up is an official partner of the initiative.

In July at the annual Girl Up Leadership Summit, we were honored with a speech by the First Lady Michelle Obama regarding Let Girls Learn and the importance of ensuring all girls can go to school. Then, in August, as a component of the Let Girls Learn initiative, Girl Up joined U.S. Department of State and other major partners to run a three-week STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, Math) education camp in Kigali, Rwanda. The first of its kind, the WiSCi: Girls STEAM Camp brought 28 Girl Up girls from the U.S. together with 90 girls from eight African countries for leadership and capacity building exercises, as well as cultural exchanges.

The full support of the Obama Administration for the education of girls everywhere is huge and we can’t wait to see what we can accomplish!

  1. He Named Me Malala premiered, and it was amazing

In October around International Day of the Girl, He Named Me Malala premiered, telling the story of our favorite #GIRLHERO Malala Yousafzai and her fight for every girl’s right to go to school. The world got to cry, smile and stand with Malala as we watched her journey. The film brought long-time advocates for girls together and inspired many more to join the movement. We love you Malala!