The Global Adolescent Girl Leadership Town Hall that took place virtually on 6 July 2023 was an initiative led and organized by adolescent girl leaders around the world and supported by UN Women along with youth and adolescent led and serving organizations, and other UN Agencies. We were invited to be one of the organizations and four of our Mary Ward Advocates were involved in the planning and/or attended the event.
Mahi Tripathi, one of our young intern from India and Mbodze, a Mary Ward Girl Advocate from Kenya were involved in the planning of the Global Forum for Adolescent Girl Leadership Town Hall. They were among the young leaders who were pivotal in leading the development of the recommendations that have been shared with key decision-makers including high-level representatives of Member States, UN agencies, philanthropies, and civil society organizations. Mbodze was one of the adolescents chosen to speak during the Townhall and advocate for girls rights. Here is what Mbodze said:
Today I am here to bring your attention to some issues concerning adolescent girls and recommendations to address them. In my lifetime, I have seen many times when girls were not allowed to speak or decide for themselves. Programs are developed without their input.
We are calling for the creation of spaces where girls can meaningfully participate in policy creation, programming and research that directly affect our lives and communities. It is crucial to provide girls with mentorship and advocacy training to demand our rights and hold governments and institutions accountable.
Girls are being married off at 16 yrs. old, being circumcised because it’s culture. Equipping us with skills and knowledge enables us to advocate effectively. How better to help us by helping us help ourselves!
It pains me that a girl my age suffers depression because she’s stuck in a loop that she thinks there’s no escape. A friend almost got married at 13 because they didn’t have funds for school. She ran away. She didn’t talk at all till she finally broke down and explained how everything kept replaying in her head.
It is important to promote positive and informed language around mental health. Resources, including on self-care and mental wellness, should be available and accessible to adolescents. This will create a supportive environment, encouraging girls to seek help and support when needed.
I conclude by urging civil society organizations to provide the necessary support and provide opportunities for adolescent girls to thrive. I believe that implementing these recommendations will enable us to shape our lives and communities, demand our rights, prioritize mental health, and combat gender-based violence. I call for collective action to create a future where every girl can reach our full potential.
You can read the full Girls Recommendations ICI.
To learn more about the Global Adolescent Forum, go ICI.
Quote card from UN Women and PMNCH.