On the eve of International Day of the Girl, music powerhouse Paloma Faith is joining youth activists – and a host of global celebrities and brands – to launch Girls Get Equal: the world’s biggest girl-led action for gender equality.
The British singer, songwriter and actress lent her voice to the new campaign in a special performance at Global Girls’ Summit – Girls Get Equal Live event held in the European capital of Brussels on 10 October in solidarity with girls across the world.
Queen Mathilde of Belgium, poet, artist and author Cleo Wade, yoga entrepreneur Adriene Mishler, SlumFlower Chidera Eggerue and inclusion campaigner Sinead Burke are among the leading personalities who also attended the launch. They will join hundreds of youth activists in the call for urgent investment in girls’ and young women’s power, voice and leadership. Global brands supporting the summit include Google, Citi, Canon, Accenture and YouTube Creators for Change.
In a year that has seen a tidal wave of interest in gender equality, it is girls turn to take the lead say the organisers – global girls’ rights organisation Plan International. Girls Get Equal is being launched in recognition of the power of girls and young women as change-makers. Young activists from around the world have co-created the campaign with the aim of shaking up decades of slow progress on gender equality. Their aim is to end the stereotypes that hold girls back once and for all.
“Enough is enough! Girls everywhere are undervalued, undermined and under-estimated. We are fed up with being silenced and ignored. We want a new world with new rules. One that will be better for everyone. We need change and we want it now,” said Erika, 19, from Ecuador
Paloma Faith is a leading feminist voice in the world of music and entertainment and has often spoken out about the biases within the industry. She said:
“The age of space and technology is very much a man’s world. For girls and women, the world is still stuck in medieval times. Girls and women are not just about finding a man and having babies. We have ideas, we have careers and we have the power.”
“No society, no culture and no industry has achieved gender equality – music and entertainment even less so. The music and entertainment industry is in parts still fundamentally sexist. Over the decades the industry has consistently treated and portrayed girls and women as sex objects and perpetuated stereotypes that hold girls back across the world”
“The way girls and women are depicted in music and entertainment strongly influences popular culture. It is time we all wake up and helped smash the stereotypes that harm girls across the world. Laws and policies alone are not enough. We need to change mindsets. We need the power of music and entertainment to help Get Girls Equal.”
From Presidents to CEOs, this International Day of the Girl (11 October) saw thousands of girls across the globe stepping into the shoes of high-profile leaders to demand equality, freedom and power for girls and young women. The #GirlsTakeover is the world’s biggest single action for girls’ leadership and power the world has witnessed.
Over 1000 #GirlsTakeover, organised by Plan International, are being held in more than 70 countries with girls raising their voice against the discrimination, harassment, and inequalities that hold them back.
The President of Paraguay, senior executives of global corporations such as Google, Facebook, Viacom and L’Oréal, and Finland’s Minister of Foreign Trade are just some of the international leaders who will be “taken over” and have committed to creating a new world where girls and young women are seen, heard and valued as equals to boys and men.
Anne-Birgitte Albrectsen, Plan International CEO, said:
“It’s girls turn to take the lead – to be seen, heard and valued as equals. We will never move forward as long as girls are held back. None of us will be equal until girls get equal.
“We need a world that values girls – and where girls value themselves – equally to boys. Too much time has been wasted and we just can’t afford to wait any longer. The world needs a game changer and young people have the power and ideas to make this happen.”
Cleo Wade, the “poet of her generation” – who will be attending the summit – said:
“It is critical that we empower girls, because when we do so, we open their eyes to just how worthy and capable they are of becoming world-changing women. When we empower them, we fulfil our duty to show them that they are important and that they matter. Truly, every single day is international day of the girl.”
Nicole Maines – who will play the world’s first transgender superhero in the hit TV show, Supergirl – said:
“It’s time to unleash the incredible power of girls and young women. It’s time for the world’s storytellers, educators, advertisers and marketeers to stop promoting damaging gender stereotypes. It’s time for them to start working with people of all genders to share diverse stories of girls’ power. We need to start telling girls’ stories with truth and respect. Young people have the energy, ideas and power to smash stereotypes once and for all. To create a world where everyone is valued equally. A world that delivers for everyone. This International Day of the Girl I stand with all of the young people across the world who are fighting for gender equality in their communities… we won’t stop until girls get equal. I won’t stop until girls get equal. Are you with us?”
According to UN, at the current pace of change, it will take 50 years to achieve parity in political participation and 118 years for true pay equality. Further, less than 1% of parliamentarians in the world are women under the age of 30. A 2017 survey of 30,000 young people from 186 countries conducted by the World Economic Forum showed that over half of young women say they do not feel their views were heard or taken seriously.
Girls Get Equal will defend the rights of girls and women everywhere to speak up and claim their rights – without the threat of violence or harassment – so they can be free and safe at home, in the streets, at work, in school and when raising their voices for change.
“I have a dream of a world where no one is treated differently or becomes a victim of violence just because of their gender,” said Sifat, 22, a youth activist from Bangladesh who will be attending the summit.
“I would like to see the protection and promotion of girls’ rights through the abolition of traditions and practices that continue to subjugate girls and women,” said Caren, 24, a youth advocate from Kenya.
“Our experience of working with girls and boys in communities across the world has shown that there is nothing more effective than the collective power of young people to influence traditions, beliefs and cultures. They can play a pivotal role in ending the harassment and negative stereotyping of girls. Only then can girls’ true power be unleashed, creating a world that is better for everyone,” said Ms Albrectsen.
As part of the Girls Get Equal campaign, Plan International will invest in programmes and actions that will deliver life-changing impact for millions of girls and young women. The campaign will support youth activists and advocates to engage in direct action to advance girls rights and gender equality. Additionally, children and young people will be directly supported to champion gender equality in their communities in over 70 countries where Plan International works.