Around the world, girls continue to be excluded from decisions affecting them – their needs invisible and their voices unheard. But girls can and should have their voices heard in civic and political discussions at every level – from local school boards to national policy-making. Supporting girls’ participation in civic and political spaces is key to ensuring resilient and sustainable communities—and, of course, girls are leading the way!
Save the Children is proud to work with young activists who are champions for girls around the world. We invited a few young, female leaders of Save the Children and Save the Children Action Network (SCAN) High School Clubs to join us for a multi-day, virtual learning and advocacy experience which culminated in meetings with their members of Congress’ offices to advocate for the Girls LEAD Act!
The Girls Leadership, Engagement, Agency, and Development Act (Girls LEAD Act) is a bill that recognizes and promotes girls’ civic and political leadership as a priority for U.S. foreign assistance efforts – particularly those focused on building strong and inclusive democracies across the globe.
During the Girls LEAD Advocacy Experience, these amazing girl activists honed their advocacy skills while learning about girls’ leadership and participation in policymaking around the world. In particular, our advocates participated in meetings with staff from their congressional representatives to practice their advocacy skills and ask their representatives to co-sponsor the Girls LEAD Act.
Here’s what our advocates had to say about their Girls LEAD Advocacy Experience and the importance of promoting girls’ leadership around the world.
Rosati-Kain High School | St. Louis, Missouri
The lack of girls’ leadership in civic and political spaces does not solely apply to the United States. The issue is even more prominent in other global regions because certain countries face higher disparities in common areas, such as inaccessibility to education and gender-based violence. People in the U.S. have to expand their advocacy, which will truthfully make advocating for girls’ civic and political leadership a worldwide effort. Additionally, providing support for girls in the U.S. and giving them the space to feel supported, empowered, and heard is a step toward planting the seed of courage in girls living around the world to do the same. People in the U.S can take just a few of many actions to extend our activism and support girls around the world to be leaders. Some of these steps include using our voices to speak up for those who cannot, being open to diverse voices and stories, and striving toward cohesive representation. The most rewarding thing that girls need is opportunity. When girls get the opportunities they deserve, sensational things begin to happen, and the world, on all levels, gets better.
Notre Dame High School | Fairfield, Connecticut
Making decisions about women and girls around the world without their input is counterproductive. To truly address the root of a problem and make a positive change, you must talk to the millions of people who are experiencing these problems on a daily basis and are also advocating to make a difference. By listening to girls and involving them in decisions, policymakers also foster and cultivate the voices of future generations who look up to the incredible women and men with admiration and respect as they fight for the rights of girls to be unapologetically themselves. We are doing this for the girls who want to become doctors, astronauts, presidents, and advocates. When policymakers listen to girls, they learn from an early age the importance of advocacy and standing up for their rights. By actively engaging girls in decision-making that will affect not just their future but the future of girls around the world, we nurture an appreciation for both what it means to be a woman in the 21st century and the importance of representation in the media and politics in regards to issues that directly affect women.
Illinois Math & Science Academy (IMSA) | Aurora, Illinois
The impacts of crises are never gender-neutral. Unfortunately, COVID-19 was no exception. The need for more female leaders has never been more critical. It often helps to think about girls’ civic participation in the same way as girls’ STEM education. Scientific innovation provides the power for people to change the world and advance systems to address societal challenges that were unimaginable years ago. Scientific research will always be more accurate when gender is considered. Whether you are studying seat belt design or looking at different types of heart medication, the research should consider both male and female subjects. The number of scientists and researchers overlooking these innovations is overwhelmingly male and they often neglect their subjects’ gender, putting women’s safety at risk. Just like STEM, the benefit of girls’ civic participation is inclusion, safety, and the collection of otherwise-overlooked ideas. The girls and women– who have been systematically oppressed for hundreds of years–can finally feel heard. As we look at the impact COVID-19 has had on the advancement of gender equality, we need to restructure decision-making to be more inclusive and gender-responsive.
If you are just as passionate as we are in uplifting and prioritizing the voices of women and girls, you can support girls everywhere to become leaders in their own lives. Please send this message to your members of Congress and ask them to co-sponsor the Girls LEAD Act, so girls all over the world are empowered to be drivers of change in their lives today and in the future. With your support, girls will be able to grow up healthy, educated and protected through policies and laws that take account of their needs and priorities!
Thank you for being an advocate and a voice for women and girls!