Just one foot inside the bright pink conference room and I was surrounded by the sights and sounds of powerful young women. The young girls sitting next to me laughed as they took selfies for Snapchat. Rachel Platten’s “Fight Song” played loudly from the main stage, a musical tribute to the millions of girls around the world who couldn’t be in attendance. I could tell right away that this summit was special.
The Girl Up Leadership Summit is an opportunity for hundreds of girls to get valuable experience and get involved in global issues. The girls hear from leading women in the arts, sciences, and government. They also teach each other how to lead. It’s truly a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to grow and look at some of what girls face around the world.
“Being able to be in a room filled with so many passionate girls is just mindblowing,” said 2016 Girl Up Teen Advisor Lee Schwartz in a recent Facebook Live interview. “Being able to hear so many different perspectives really impacted me.”
As the United Nations begins work on the commitments made on fighting climate change and reaching the new Sustainable Development Goals, the time has never been more important for young people to join the conversation.
It’s almost ironic that in a time when many governments are finally recognizing the importance of involving young voices, many young people are apathetic to public affairs — and especially international relations. But through summits like this one, young people are getting the confidence they need to voice their opinions, get involved in issues they are passionate about and take action.
This is their world. Their future. And, after going to this summit, I couldn’t be more certain that girls are going to lead the way.
Learn more about Girl Up and how you can get involved by following them on Facebook. You can also take action by supporting their current advocacy campaign to ensure girls in vulnerable settings have access to education.