'Girl Up' 2020– Online
Updated: Aug 15, 2020
By Mehr Sohal
About Girl Up
'Girl Up' believes in the following statement– "When girls rise, we all rise."
If that strong motto wasn't explanatory enough, this United Nations Foundation campaign (started in 2010) is considered to be a movement to advance girls' skills, rights, and opportunities to be leaders. While they constantly organise programmes and summits, there is also a leadership programme that empowers girls all around the world to start 'Girl Up' clubs in their communities, schools, and more.
This year's leadership summit was–no surprise–an online version. I, for one, considered this to be a good thing as I could attend the summit from the comfort of my home. I suppose there is a slight, minute, and microscopic silver lining during this pesky pandemic.
2020's virtual summit ran from the 13th of July to the 15th of July– a 3-day, jam packed event. Each day had panel discussions with gender equality advocates and other prominent figures; short speeches from powerful women of the likes of Michelle Obama; a plethora of workshops to attend, that aim to empower and educate women, amongst others.
Home page of the event
How cute is the above picture that resembles the actual area a normal leadership summit would have taken place in! I truly found the 'main stage', 'chat lounge' and 'help desk', etc. very helpful. The realness of this all was a tad bit eery.
A message from former First Lady– Michelle Obama
Example of a virtual panel discussion...on Zoom of course!
While 'Girl Up' 2020 was a bubbling and bursting hub of thoughts, epiphanies, and ideas; I would like to share with you a few of the things I personally picked up from the virtual event:
Firstly– how interesting is it to know that 30,000 people signed up for this event!
Michelle Obama has started a new organization– 'Girls Opportunity Alliance'. As the name suggests, the aim is to help girls all around the world access education; especially during these trying times of COVID-19. Read more here: https://www.obama.org/girlsopportunityalliance/
The #MeToo movement and Black Lives movement were both started by black women. One speaker left us all with a very thought-provoking notion– "[black women] fought for everybody, but who's fighting for them?" She also continued to remind us that the overwhelming number of hashtags we see on social media these days merely reduces the movement. Lip service is not enough.
The word 'feminism', as of late, has developed into a term with a negative connotation. For it is sometimes wrongly accused as "the belief that women are superior to men." As wrong and inaccurate as that definition is, a lot of girls, too, easily accept this notion. I honestly hear this a lot from girls I know– "I am not one of those feminists!". However, as one advocate for gender equality stated, "It's stupid to not be on your own side".
What is of utmost importance is to unlearn what we have learnt. Unlearn gender stereotypes. Unlearn archaic societal expectations of gender. Unlearn what has been taught to us since before we could even walk. Unlearn that pink is for girls, and blue is for boys.
The absolute FIRST step in the feminist movement is to take care of each other. We need to abolish the mentality that women can not be friends with each other.
Confirmative activism does not matter.
Jodi Patterson, social activist, made several noteworthy and interesting points in one of the panel discussions. She commented on how the definition of 'queer' has evolved; and today, it is symbolic of limitlessness and endless possibilities. And Jodi believes that imagination and freedom is going to propel us into something new
To conclude with, I hope these small points will get you to start thinking about a variety of topics. Discussion on gender, race, sexuality, and more is absolutely needed. As historian Yuval Noah Harari stated in 'Sapiens'– "Sex is child play; but gender is serious business."