Our mission at School Girls Unite is to tackle prejudice against girls worldwide and expand their freedom and opportunities through education and leadership. A group of seventh grade girls, together with young African women and several community activists, co-founded this initiative back in 2004. Within two months of our launch, School Girls participated in the Global Campaign for Education’s Global Action Week. The highlight was a congressional reception with then Senator Hillary Clinton, a leading champion of the Education for All Act in Congress.
Every year our activists, who range in age from twelve to twenty, take part in GCE-US creative advocacy events designed to educate the public and lawmakers on the critical Millennium Development Goal of universal access to quality basic education for every child worldwide. In previous years School Girls Unite joined the Send My Buddy to School campaign and made hundreds of paper dolls with messages to President George W. Bush about the importance of education. Thirteen-year-old Anika Manzoor used this prop to reinforce her message during a live guest appearance on MSNBC. We also participated in a video for GCE-US highlighting the urgent need to invest in quality education for all children:
Our students at School Girls Unite have a unique perspective to share when they speak with their peers or policymakers. Our sister organization, Les Filles Unies pour l’Education, is comprised of girls in Mali who have completed secondary school. They are determined to increase the number of girls who go to school in Mali. The young women leaders in Les Filles Unies serve as role models and managers of our Mali Girls Scholarship Program, which sponsors 65 girls from one year to the next. School Girls cover the cost of the basics that include tuition, books, tutors, chalkboards, and other school supplies.
Les Filles Unies shares with School Girls Unite the daily challenges that increase the likelihood these younger girls will drop out. For example, one fourth grader won the top academic prize in her rural region—but by age 12 she was married and no longer in school. Another scholarship beneficiary, now in 8th grade, has lost both her parents but her aunt makes sure she studies at night rather than do many chores, so she can succeed in school. This information, direct from our sister organization in West Africa, amplifies our message when we speak with Members of Congress and their staff.
Together with Les Filles Unies, School Girls Unite middle and high school students co-authored the bilingual action guide titled “Girls Gone Activist! How to Change the World through Education”. You can download this free e-book here and our blog contains numerous entries and photos about our advocacy for Education for All and the Global Partnership for Education.
Gender inequalities facing girls around the world led School Girls Unite to mobilize U.S. support to establish a new United Nations International Day of the Girl Child. This annual girls’ rights day will be celebrated for the first time on October 11, 2012. School Girls Unite encourages girls across America to draft official city Day of the Girl proclamations to bring attention to the school dropout crisis for girls at home and abroad. Our free Day of the Girl Proclamation Project Toolkit is available here and describes the simple steps for teaming up with elected officials to proclaim the Day of the Girl.
School Girls Unite thanks GCE-US for its collaborative spirit and focus on systemic change through grassroots advocacy. Our involvement during the past eight years have been great and School Girls Unite looks forward to many more!
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