At Shimmer Teen, we believe that a well-rounded, healthy lifestyle includes recognizing our gifts and giving back to the community. Our series, Girls Gone Giving, spotlights different organizations that provide opportunities for girls to leverage our strengths in support of causes that matter to us.
Last summer, I had the amazing opportunity to travel to Washington D.C. for a leadership conference designed to generate support for girls’ empowerment campaigns in developing countries. While I was definitely looking forward to learning more about human rights and ways to contribute, nothing prepared me for the Hollywood-level fangirling I experienced as a stood just yards away from powerhouse personalities such as Amy Robach, Samantha Power, Cathy Russell, and Shaun Robinson. Each amazing speaker shared an invaluable perspective on finding her unique voice as a woman in international advocacy – Amy Robach’s humility and sustained empathy despite years in the field, Shaun Robinson’s tenacity and generosity in the face of systemic adversity, Cathy Russell’s scathing intellect and patience in describing the most complicated of world problems, and Samantha Power’s charisma, humor, and optimism that each one of us has an important role as the next generation of international women leaders. As an added bonus, readers who, like me, can recite every single High School Musical song verbatim, will appreciate the fact that my table partner just happened to be Monique Coleman (Taylor!!). Honestly, her story of leveraging her early celebrity to bring awareness and compassion to those in need was perhaps the most inspiring message of the week.
At the culmination of the conference, a delegation of advocates from my region visited our representatives on Capitol Hill to garner support for the Girls Count Act of 2013. After a week of learning about the incredible potential impact of the Bill on girls in developing countries, we were excited and empowered to bring attention to it. While we learned a lot in every meeting and did our best to advocate for cosponsorship, my overriding impression as we sat in each Senator and Representative’s office was complete awe at the privilege of our democracy and our role as Americans in the political process.
What is Girl Up? Girl Up is a campaign funded by the United Nations foundation that enables girls in the United States to connect with and empower girls in developing countries – specifically, Liberia, Malawi, Ethiopia, and Guatemala. The Girl Up community is now 378,000+ strong with supporters in 44 countries and 33 states. Girl Up works to educate girls, improve girls’ health, keep girls safe, ensure girls can lead, and, lastly, to count girls and ensure that they are counted, which was the main priority of the Girl Up Summit this past June.
How to Get Involved: The best way to get involved in GirlUp is to start a club at your school or community center. By doing so, you can spread the message of this “for girls, by girls” campaign and recruit new members to grow the movement. Each club holds meetings, connects with similar clubs across the world, and participates in the annual fundraising challenge to support a GirlUp program or initiative. Then, if you’d like to connect with other GirlUp leaders, you can attend their annual leadership conference or apply to be a member of the Teen Advisory Board.