United Nations Foundation Wants YOU To Lead Change With ‘Girl Up’

“Women and girls’ accomplishments and achievements are often invisibilized in our society. But once you give them the platform to tap into their potential, they are unstoppable” - Kunalika, Associate - Youth Engagement & Impact, Girl Up India.

“We need to urgently invest in girls’ leadership because they are leaders of today, not tomorrow” — Aditi Arora, Country Director-India, Girl Up

Anna Chandy, Anandi Gopal Joshi and Ahilyabai Holkar all have two things in common.

Firstly, they are all women that were trailblazers in their field – be it law, medicine or leadership. Veritable ‘firsts’ of their time. The second thing in common is that many people probably haven’t heard of them – because women in history may have brought in waves of change, but their stories and narratives remain largely untold. “Women and girls’ accomplishments and achievements are often invisibilized in our society. But once you give them the platform to tap into their potential, they are unstoppable” – Kunalika, staff and Girl Up leader.

In India, only 18.6% of working-age women participate in the labour force, 3 times lower than men (Source: Periodic Labour Force Survey, 2020). Between 2010 and 2020, the number of working women dropped from 26% to 19% according to data compiled by the World Bank. Equally dismal is India’s record in representing women in leading corporations. The 7th edition of Deloitte’s Global ‘Women in Boardroom Report’ revealed that only 3.6% of women are corporate board chairpersons in India.

In order to change the face of leadership for generations to come, Girl Up, an initiative of the United Nations Foundation designed the ‘Apprentice Hub’. The Apprentice Hub, a 10-week incubator supported a cohort of 10 girls in their leadership and entrepreneurial journeys. This cohort of future CEOs was featured in Forbes and US Times Now for their transformative ideas. Mansi Bhatia, co-founder of Blahcksheep said, “my advisor helped me strategize and build budget plans, making me confident in my pursuit”. A total of US $ 4,000 was invested in the cohort.

Girl Up in India

Investing in girls’ skills, rights and opportunities is the need of the hour. Girl Up India has invested in the education of 60 girls from poor resource households in Uttar Pradesh. “The scholarship has given me the hope to continue moving forward. At the age of 15, I lost my mother and a few years later I lost my father in a road accident. With the scholarship support, I look forward to using the contribution on my books and other expenses. The scholarship will help me become a teacher and give back to my community.” – Rani (name changed).

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Starting young, Girl Up gives girls between the ages of 13-18 years the opportunity to serve on a global advisory board. Saundarya Nair (Teen Advisor, 2022-2023) has been invited to Washington D.C. for a week-long training. At the young age of 17, Saundarya will graduate school with this experience that will make her a more confident, compassionate and strong leader. Girl Up in India has trained more than 22,000 young girls like Saundarya, Mansi and Rani to be leaders of today.

With Girl Up, anyone can create impact. Because, where you see girls, we see the future.

Author credit to Anushka Maheshwary (Girl Up- Communications Coordinator, India) and Kunalika Gautam (Associate – Youth Engagement & Impact, India). Girl Up is a leadership development initiative of the United Nations Foundation, working with young girls in 152 countries.

Image source: Girl Up India

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