Women in the World Day 2: Being a Voice for Girls Around the World


Men, women, celebrities, thought leaders, and hundreds of others from across the globe gathered at The Sixth Annual Women in the World Summit, hosted by Tina Brown in NYC, to discuss a number of issues affecting women’s lives everywhere. I attended Day 2 of the event on behalf of Girl Up.

Even as I write this a week after the event, I can still picture Obiageli Ezekwesili, a Nigerian activist, discussing her efforts in Nigeria to rescue the 200 kidnapped schoolgirls by Boko Haram. Her campaign has spread like wildfire on social media to keep the girls’ story alive. She discussed how the missing girls symbolize everything that the country struggles with: religious extremism, sexual slavery, and corruption within the government. Obiageli insisted there was hope for the girls to be rescued. Her words reminded me that we cannot be indifferent to the suffering of other people, no matter how far away they are.

I was stunned by heartbreaking stories of sexual slavery and rape in countries like India and Iraq, where women and girls are being used as weapons of war. In northwestern Iraq, the Yazidi people have been under attack by ISIS for over a year. Two Yazidi sisters, Doctor Delay Dakheel Saeed and Vian Dakheel Saeed, painfully shared the story of how their people are being sexually abused, traded and sold, and displaced, because they practice a different religion. These two brave women are risking their lives by speaking out, but Vian said, “When I think about how 9 year old girls are being raped by ISIS militants, I think my life is nothing, and I must do something to help.”

On the lighter side, Helen Mirren charmed the audience with wit and humor. Helen reminisced about her film and theatre roles as the Queen of England, and she talked about how society needs to change stereotypical roles for women. I was struck by what she called her most important life lesson –all girls need to be taught to achieve financial independence. Taking that piece of advice from her mother, she became strong, successful, and independent. Talk about girl power!

The Girl Up community is undoubtedly making a huge difference across the globe, but the discussions at the summit made me stop and think about all of the women who are victims of atrocities that most of us could never imagine. It made me recognize the need to implore global leaders to take action.

We need to be the voice for the women around the world who do not have one.

This is a guest blog written by Daria Klemick, a junior at Hanover Park High School. She is founder and president of the Hanover Park Girl Up Club. As the leader of her club, she has overseen fundraisers and advocacy activities to support the Girls Count Act.

For Day 1 of the Women in the World Summit, check out the blog by Alexis Tsapralis.