On December 19, 2011, United Nations General Assembly adopted Resolution 66/170 to declare October 11th as the International Day of the Girl Child, to recognize girls’ rights and the unique challenges girls face around the world. This year the theme of International Day of the Girl Child is “My voice, our equal future”. As shown by the following article, there are many young women who are already leading the way:
Greta Thunberg, Sweden – This 16-year-old activist became the face of a global movement for climate change in 2019. Thunberg’s movement started with her skipping school and camping out in front of the Swedish Parliament, demanding action to protect the planet for future generations, and grew to a global strike. In September 2019, Thunberg sailed across the Atlantic on an emissions-free boat to speak at the UN Climate Summit in New York, where she condemned world leaders for their lack of action.
Neha, Nepal – Neha is a girls’ rights and gender equality activist who grew up in a slum of Kathmandu, Nepal. She began her activism in community girl and youth clubs where she tackled issues from child trafficking to gender-based violence. Now, as a Plan International Global Young Influencer, she is an inspirational grassroots campaigner and leader in the Mahila Ekta Samaj Girls Network of Nepal which unites girl activists from the 10 major slums of the Kathmandu valley. Neha is also a programme presenter on Nepal’s radio programme #CoolKids.com, where she raises awareness against the online sexual exploitation and harassment of girls. Ahead of International Day of the Girl Child, Neha joined UN Women and Plan International for a conversation on digital youth activism.
Sofia Scarlat, Romania – Sofia Scarlat is a 17-year-old student from Romania. She founded Girl Up, Romania’s first ever gender equality organization for teenagers and works to advance gender equality through the prevention of domestic violence, sexual violence and trafficking in persons. She is also a strong advocate for comprehensive sexual education and promotes legal assistance for underage victims of gender-based violence.
Keeping with this theme, I would like to talk about how I use my voice to empower other women through mentoring in my local community.
I have had the honor of being a mentor for the WTS Philadelphia Mentoring Program since 2016, and in 2018 I was asked to be co-chair the program. It has been amazing seeing how these mentees have grown and how the program has expanded over the years. Beyond the formal agendas, I have been able to help our mentees navigate professional topics from the college search to more personal questions about my experiences being a woman in STEM.”
The WTS Philadelphia TrYOU Mentoring Program recently wrapped up its ninth program year. Each year, the typical program consists of events every other month during the school year with upwards of 50 mentees and 30 mentors. Mentees of this program are young women ages 13 -18 who are interested in the transportation field. Although it is a mentoring program, it is more informal as mentees are not paired with a specific mentor.
During this past year, a wide range of topics in the transportation field were covered including green streets, how traffic lights work, and even a behind-the-scenes tour of the PATCO car shop at the Lindenwold Station. At each event, a professional development topic is also covered, such as how to dress for a professional setting. Despite having to cancel the March and April TrYOU events due to COVID-19, the team shifted to a virtual format in June for the End of Year Celebration to send off the 10 graduating seniors. We are currently continuing the TrYOU Program in a virtual setting until it is safe to hold in-person events again in our county.
Happy International Day of the Girl Child 2020!
As empowering women and girls and promoting gender equality is crucial to accelerating sustainable development, how are you using your voice to empower others or promoting gender quality?