By editorial intern Laura Paquette
As part of a typical day this summer, you might start working on your summer reading, get your yearly check-up, or help out at a summer camp. These activities may not sound particularly special, (in fact, some of them are major chores) but millions of girls in developing countries don’t have the opportunity to experience them. That’s why the United Nations Foundation created GirlUp, a program that supports teen and adolescent girls in developing countries in the areas of education, health care, safety, leadership — and simply being counted! (In Ethiopia, for example, only 7 percent of girls are registered at birth. GirlUp tries to get them identification cards so they can be counted as part of the population.) One girl featured on the GirlUp website ran away from home at the age of 14 to avoid an arranged marriage. Now, with the help of a GirlUp-sponsored school, she’s receiving health care and education to help her achieve her dream of becoming an engineer.
What’s unique about GirlUp, though, is that it encourages teenage American girls to work for change. According to a June article in The Huffington Post, “Girl Up rallies American girls to step up and become the next generation of impact philanthropist and empowerment activists.” Not only can girls learn more about problems girls their age face in other parts of the world, they can get involved by making a donation, using Facebook or Twitter to raise awareness, or by reading the Girlafesto, an empowerment poem which ends, “You see a girl. We see the future.” By giving American teens a voice and a way to make a difference, GirlUp allows them to connect with girls across the globe for a better life. To learn more, check out GirlUp.org.