International Day of the Girl 2023: The Girls Speak Out

Marides Santos SSpS

Working Group on Girls
The Working Group on Girls (WGG) is a unified coalition comprising national and international organizations dedicated to championing the cause of girls’ human rights. Among its distinguished members is VIVAT International, which proudly affiliates itself with WGG. Our fundamental belief lies in recognizing girls as pivotal stakeholders in shaping international policy agendas and human rights frameworks. To this end, we devote relentless efforts to fostering and preserving their active and enduring inclusion within the United Nations system.

International Day of the Girl
In 2011, the United Nations designated October 11 as the International Day of the Girl (IDG), an occasion now annually celebrated in dedication to the celebration of girlhood.

Since 2012, the Working Group on Girls has harnessed the power of IDG to spotlight the voices and concerns of girls worldwide. Since 2013, the IDG Summit and Girls Speak Out, held at the UN Headquarters on October 11th, have emerged as a pivotal platform for young female activists and advocates. This platform allows them to bring their issues and concerns to the forefront of the UN’s attention and call for meaningful change from UN stakeholders.

10th Anniversary of Girls Speak Out
The 10th annual celebration of the Girls Speak Out for the International Day of the Girl Child in 2023 marked a significant milestone. It emphasized a strong commitment to being accountable for girls’ rights and investing in their leadership and well-being. The Working Group on Girls sought to listen to girls genuinely, embrace their diverse identities, and understand their needs while forming partnerships with these young individuals and relevant stakeholders. Together, they advocated for sustainable solutions to the challenges girls face and the protection of their rights.

The 2023 Girls Speak Out event aligned with the theme “Invest in Girls’ Rights: Our Leadership & Well-being,” focusing on tangible actions to uphold girls’ rights. This includes trusting their leadership in decision-making processes, investing in their health and well-being, with a particular emphasis on inclusive education. The event centered around Girl Advocates and Girl Activists who were already driving positive change, addressing their efforts to advance girls’ rights and work toward their realization.

IDG Summit activities
11 Days of Action: The “Elevate Her Voice” campaign, powered by the dynamic force of social media, was thoughtfully orchestrated to amplify the voices of girl activists and raise awareness about the pressing issues of girls’ rights. This innovative initiative was made possible through the collaborative efforts of numerous organizations that champion girls’ rights, who wholeheartedly placed these critical concerns at the forefront of their mission.

The campaign unfolded from October 1st to 11th, 2023, using social media platforms to mobilize support, drive change, and ensure that the world’s attention was squarely focused on the vital cause of girls’ rights. VIVAT International sponsored the 8th day, together with two other NGOs, with the theme “Invest in Quality Education for Girls.” Three videos, one from the Philippines and two from Indonesia, were uploaded on Facebook and X (formerly Twitter).

Girls Speak Out: On October 11, 2023, the United Nations hosted a groundbreaking hybrid town hall meeting, merging virtual and in-person engagement. The event centered on Girl Activists and Girl Advocates, who engaged with policymakers to address girls’ rights, leadership, and well-being. The girls shared their experiences, highlighting the neglect of their rights and the need for greater investment. They also posed crucial questions regarding the resources required to support their potential and achieve the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals. Distinguished UN members and advocates for the Generation Equality movement and Sustainable Development Goals responded, exploring ways to enhance accountability. Simultaneously, a girl-led and girl-moderated webinar was live-streamed to involve virtual participants. The Working Group on Girls ensured the event’s documentation and security for future advocacy.

The exceptional event’s organization was a collaborative effort between the Working Group on Girls and Girl Advocates, who also invited girls worldwide to contribute to the International Day of the Girl theme through various platforms, fostering diverse submissions encompassing videos, artwork, written pieces, and collaborative projects, further amplifying the message.

IDG 2023 Girls Speak Out Participants
The 2023 IDG Girls Speak Out event showcased a diverse group of participants, featuring four accomplished Girl Advocates, with two present in person and two virtually engaged. Expert moderators facilitated discussions between Girl Activists and UN Representatives, ensuring a constructive exchange of ideas. Additionally, six dedicated Girl Activists enriched conversations with their global perspectives and insights for both in-person and virtual attendees. Two Girl Advocates managed online chat discussions, creating a safe and productive environment for virtual attendees with support from WGG adult coordinators. This collaborative effort established a powerful platform for young voices to be heard, driving positive change. The event invited girls and girl allies, including UN representatives, either in person or virtually, building upon the success of the 2022 hybrid Girls Speak Out and aiming for continued growth in years to come to promote dialogue on girls’ rights and leadership.

Member State & UN Agency Engagement
The 2023 Girls Speak Out event saw enthusiastic participation from numerous Member States and UN agencies. Notable attendees included distinguished representatives from the Mission of Canada to the United Nations, graced by the presence of the Minister for Women and Gender Equality and Youth and the Permanent Representative of Canada to the UN. Similarly, the Mission of Perú to the United Nations was represented by the Minister of Women and Vulnerable Populations and the Permanent Representative of Perú. Turkey’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations was also actively involved. Prominent UN figures, such as Secretary-General António Guterres, Deputy Secretary-General Amina J. Mohammed, and UN Under-Secretary-General, and UN Women Executive Director Sima Sami Bahous, further graced the event. Additionally, the event benefited from the insights and contributions of distinguished representatives from UNICEF and UNFPA.

The collective participation of these esteemed individuals and organizations underscored the global significance of girls’ rights and empowerment. Their active involvement in the event demonstrated a shared commitment to advancing the well-being and leadership of girls on the global stage.

Marides Santos SSpS