Should we partner with a UN Foundation campaign or are we interested in doing so? This question was asked of chapter leaders across the United States as part of the UNA-USA’s annual report chapter report. One of the UN Foundation’s partners, for example, is Girl Up!, which focuses on the health, safety, education, leadership, and documentation of girls around the globe. These five areas were identified by the United Nations as the priorities “to accelerate efforts to advance the rights of adolescent girls.” There is a current focus on Guatemala, India, Ethiopia, Malawi, Uganda, and Liberia. Girls receive little education in these countries due to favoring education for boys over girls; families often can’t afford school fees, uniforms and supplies for all children. Girls are kept home to help with work or to provide needed income; the longstanding practice of early, forced marriage and childbearing end a different future. “Women hold up half the sky,” it is said poetically, but if girls and women are denied the chance to realize their unique potentials, they cannot contribute fully to creating a bright future for all.
Since 2010, Girl Up has become a close ally of the United Nations through partner work with the UN Population Fund and the Human Rights Council. Nearly 35,000 girls have been directly affected by the work of Girl Up. Girl Up combines the efforts of multiple UN agencies, such as UNICEF, UN Women, UNESCO, and WHO as they attempt to address inequalities that exist between genders. Equal and equitable access to education in refugee camps has been a primary avenue to reach girls who need help the most. Efforts to prevent child marriage and teenage pregnancy have also been launched by Girl Up.
The issue of gender equality is not only a human rights issue, but is fundamental to progress in every area of life. Girl Up’s advocacy priority is improving access to quality education for girls worldwide. The Upper Mohawk Valley chapter of the UNA-USA strongly believes in this issue and, as such, has commissioned our U.N. Women committee to partner with Girl Up. Are you interested in helping us work toward this most important and pressing cause? If so, please contact Carol White at firstname.lastname@example.org to join with us and suggest ways you think we can educate people about this issue and work together to take action to fix it.