The Girl Effect is Rising: New “Girl Declaration” Gives Voice to MDG 2015

Oct. 6, 2013 While we count down #11DaysOfAction in October with our friends at Day Of The Girl Summit leading up to the second annual U.N. International Day of the Girl, October 11, 2013 with this year’s theme “Innovating for Education,” it begs a reprise of the question…“Why do we need a special U.N. sanctioned day to stand up for girls, and a #Girl Declaration hashtag of voices around the world in the first place?”

Here’s a great Storify snapshot of thoughts to begin, but there’s no better voice than the girls themselves in the new “Girl Declaration” an expressive, collaboratively created tapestry of words threaded together from over 508 teen and adolescent girls across 14 countries and four continents.

“This is the moment when my rising no longer scares you…”

In the Girl Effect’s new Girl Declaration stories, poignant thoughts like these give rise to the theme that “Change Starts With a Girl” in order to sustainably stop poverty before it starts.

How? Through health, education and economic investment that prevents the inter-generational cycle of child marriage, teen pregnancy, HIV/AIDS and shining a glaring media spotlight to upend gender violence, discrimination and oppression of ‘the girl child’ for a new era of hope, and promising pathways worldwide.

I’ve been a huge supporter of the Girl Effect.org since it began in 2008, when I first wrote about their world-changing media message as a Nike Foundation project on the heels of Shaping Youth being selected as a 2007 U.S. delegate for Global Women’s Leadership Network’s (GWLN) Women Leaders of the World program.

The Girl Effect gave me a forehead smacking ‘duh’ moment of enlightenment reading the sheer magnitude of productivity and pragmatics in what seemed like a common sense numbers game.

…And the viral video media itself served up a powerful potion of viral video and clever, common sense headlines to deliver a much-needed global elixir positioning girls as assets, not liabilities.

Looking back, that Girl Effect media moment was mathematically prescient, with the acknowledgment of the first ever U.N. Day of the Girl just last year in 2012, and prominent focus on facts from the World Economic Forum raising awareness about the role of young girls and education.

Now, 10 X 10 Act.org is helping finish that math to help tell the story in the next chapter, with the new “Girl Rising” movie featuring stories of 10 girls in 10 countries (Here’s how to find/host a screening near you)

The Girl Effect site and its Girl Declaration now literally gives voice to the young girls absent and so necessary to hear in the Millennium Development Goals 2015 dialogue.

Go ahead, give ‘em a listen. Click on Girls Voices of 2015. It’s simply mesmerizing.

Listen to the audio murmur of a multi-lingual cacophony of sound, blending together like a mantra…

It’s beautiful and a bit haunting, filling in the gaping holes of a generation that needs to be heard from for a sustainable future. Powerful stuff.  You can even go behind the scenes to see how they pulled the interactive media together to hear girls’ stories firsthand.

The signatories and Girl Effect Network partner page is a tribute to just how bold and inspiring this effort has become, as State Departments, NGOs and corporate leaders worldwide unite in solidarity to pay it forward.

Individuals can twirl through the stories of girls’ experiences in audio and video snippets as individuals are prompted to add your own name with customized call to actions that make users feel like they’re actually ‘engaged’ in adding their personal voice into the media mix. It’s lovely and compelling.

This technology would’ve been cost prohibitive in 2008 when the Girl Effect began…We forget how fast and vast interconnectedness of media has shifted the global landscape, igniting girls’ voices with sophisticated technology and social media wildfire that was only kindling and sparks in the state of social media circa 2008.

When the Girl Effect began, Technorati ruled, Twitter was newly hatched, and as this week’s New York Times headline reminds “And Then Steve Said, ‘Let There Be an iPhone’ … it’s all extremely recent that communications has shifted on a global scale forevermore.

Fast forward NOW to this week’s events as the second annual Day of the Girl takes shape Oct. 11, 2013, and you can see how fast the initial visionary media blitz has snowballed.

Now, momentum is multi-layered with girl organizations investing in multiple ways to ‘Girl Up’…

There’s the Half the Sky movement, Girl Rising movie, Day of the Girl Summit.org, and our own partnered team of BraveGirlsWant.com who will ‘take back the media’ with our Times Square billboard upending toxic gender stereotypes to shift toward healthier media messaging for girls! (more Oct. 11 details here and a larger lens in a forthcoming feature)

The countless women and girls leadership events springing up in global grassroots style are bold declarations to recognize and uphold girls rights while shining a spotlight on the unique challenges young females face around the world. And here’s to many more October 11 amplifications in media, marketing, and beyond…

On Twitter alone there are hashtags out the wazoo to keep up with all the events and initiatives taking place for International Day of the Girl…A few prominent ones: The #Girl Effect’s own MDG focus including #Voices2015 #GirlDeclaration  along with popular hashtags and allies like:

#IDG2013 

#BraveGirlsWant

#DayOftheGirl

#11DaysOfAction

#bcimagirl

#GirlRising

#girls2015 #IDOG #genderequality and more. (feel free to add ones missed in the comments) 

It’s encouraging to see that the “girl data” is the game-changer though in helping people SEE and believe how much it all makes so much sense…with multiple collaborations for IDG2013…And yet…

As I wrote before, there’s a glaring media irony between developed and developing nations in terms of whether the Oct. 11 “International Day of the Girl” is even remotely on girls radar…much less focusing on innovating for education.

I did a bit of “Jay Leno/Jaywalking” impromptu polling this week among American teens and got zilch in terms of defining the day, the purpose or the MDG goals for that matter.

So on the one hand, we have media coverage of Malala, who DID make an impression with the teen girls and WAS on their radar for her courageous campaigning for education and taking a bullet for her outspoken crusade for gender equality to learn…

…Juxtaposed alongside vapid ‘tween media’ in the United States with dumbed down dissing of education and ‘smarts’ in favor of dating-crazed, consumption-driven, sexploitation and superficial appearance cues.

The two cultural messages of worth in developed and developing nations are not that far apart in end result to girls…Tamping down opportunity and invisibility/dismissiveness of girls’ contribution and perceived value in the world.

When the Girl Effect factoids of hope and promise began emerging at the World Economic Forum, it became an awe-inspiring “do the math” equation, coming together like a giant ‘connect the dots’ Twister game for change. Similarly, our partners in the Brave Girls Want.com movement are helping snap open the eyes of developed nations with education on media messaging to reopen shut doors of opportunity and ‘do the math’ with the gender inequity from STEM fields to screen time.

On a global scale, it’s a powerful one-two punch to right some of the wrongs…and move forward productively to raise the bar for humanity.

It’s thrilling to see what “systems repair” in a world of broken pipes could look like:

“One girl in seven in developing countries marries before age 15 and 38% marry before age 18…Yet, when a girl in the developing world receives seven or more years of education, she marries four years later and has 2.2 fewer children” (Wham. Education. Population. And improved outcomes in health/domestic violence ripple effect)

“When women and girls earn income, they reinvest 90% of it into their families, as compared to only 35% for a man.” (Bam. Economics.)

The systemic importance of including adolescent girls at the center of change appears self-evident.

Need more hard facts? The Girl Effect site has turned into a ‘media experience’ in itself, layering weighty SlideRocket presentations that detail convincingly in “we’re not making this stuff up” mode (some are easily 61pp a pop!)

They have extensive ways to snag and share girl data, a Girl Hub detailing the partnerships and development strategies investing in girls, in-depth infographics, fact sheets, case studies, and global maps and gaps highlighting poverty and solution steps…

In short, it’s a world tour of relevance and engagement that leaves you uplifted, inspired, with a ‘Bring It!’ enthusiasm that makes the customized call to action more of a ‘where do I sign up/support?!’

Are you in? (Who wouldn’t be?)

As the Girl Effect site implores with custom calls to action delicately dangling and twirling in the digital ‘breeze’…the future is what we make it as we emerge from fragile, tenuous questions of sustainability to bold, bright, and beautiful next steps.

Chime in. Be the change.

Original Girl Effect Viral Video, Circa 2008:

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