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Very Real Ways Girls Can Change the World

Very Real Ways Girls Can Change the World

The best takeaways from the Girl Up summit.

Girl Up is a “by girls, for girls” campaign from the United Nations Foundation that supports UN programs promoting the health, safety, education, and leadership of girls in developing countries. Members of 1,300 Girl Up clubs fundraise and advocate for the campaign, developing the leadership skills needed to make a difference in the life of a girl. This year, 275 girls from 9 countries and 33 states attended the fifth annual Girl Up Leadership Summit to participate in leadership training, attend workshops, hear from numerous inspiring speakers, and lobby on Capitol Hill. I was lucky enough to be one of them, and I'm psyched to share my top takeaways from the summit.

Use social media for good.
Bernadette Anat, who holds the very awesome title of "Producer for Teens and Emerging Trends" at Instagram, spoke about how to use social media for social good. Teenagers have so much power in the palms of their hands—they just have to effectively use it. Social media platforms allow for anyone to speak their mind and connect with others who support them; it gives everyone just as much influence as the people in power. Berna challenged the audience, “Be obsessed about your obsession, and be as loud as possible.” Your passion will allow you to persevere through challenges and have success.

Don’t limit yourself.
Yara Shahidi is an actress on the Emmy nominated show Blackish, an activist, and a STEM advocate. Yara compared having many interests to being able to eat lots of desserts. You can eat a cupcake andchocolate; you don’t have to just pick one. As she said, “Society already puts you in boxes, so why do it to yourself?” It's okay to be interested in more than one thing. You don’t have to pick a passion, but you can follow many and even combine them. People are multifaceted and shouldn't be defined by just one interest or characteristic.

Get out of your comfort zone.
Monique Coleman spoke about how important it is to be okay with feeling awkward sometimes. She declared that “You may feel insecure, but somewhere in the world there is a girl who doesn’t have that opportunity.” It is important to “get comfortable being uncomfortable” in order to take risks that can have a positive impact.

You can create the world that you want to live in.
Kathy Calvin, the President and CEO of the United Nations Foundation, talked about the role of girls in advocating for the Sustainable Development Goals. Girls are uniquely affected by many of the challenges, but we can also be the ones to create solutions. No action is too small. Every person plays a role in the state of the world. As Kate Gilmore, the Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights, said, “It’s not the number of people that is the threat to the planet. It is the behavior of people that is the threat to the planet.” By changing our behavior and becoming more active citizens, we can help to solve major problems.

Take a stand.
If you see a problem in society, you can be the first one to take a stand on the issue and attempt to fix it. Rosie Rios was the first to ask why there had never been a woman on any currency before, because there had never been a female in her position as the United States Treasurer. Jen Welter was the first female NFL coach. Ashley Graham has smashed barriers as a model and is inspiring women and girls to create their own definition of beauty.

If you’re interested in joining the Girl Up movement, learn more! It's as awesome as it seems.

By Rachel Auslander, 16

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