From July 16-19, we hosted over 300 young female leaders from 33 states and 10 countries for the 2017 Girl Up Leadership Summit. Over the course of three days, these passionate girl advocates participated in various workshops where they learned core leadership skills, training in community-building, and finding ways to channel their inner strength. The 6th Annual Summit featured many notable speakers including Ms. Sophie Gregoire Trudeau, Dr. Anousheh Ansari, Amariyanna “Mari” Copeny (a.k.a. Little Miss Flint), Monique Coleman, and Cara Delevingne.
Ms . Trudeau, former television host, philanthropist, and wife of Canadian Prime Minister, gave the opening remarks and one of the most memorable and empowering speeches of the day stating, “As women we must support each other.” The 2017 Leadership Summit focused strongly on one of Trudeau’s sentiments that, “you shouldn’t feel lost in your surroundings, you should feel found,” allowing every participant to remember how strong they are. She applauded the coming together of young women, stating that “change happens in society because everyone gets engaged.” By discussing challenges faced in her own life, she was able to connect with the young attendees on a personal level, making her topics more relatable and engaging.
Dr. Anousheh Ansari, co-founder and chairwoman of Prodea Systems, followed the opening statements with remarks that were equally inspiring and stimulating. Hailing from a small village in Iran, Dr. Ansari is recognized as being the first Female Civilian Astronaut. She spoke of never giving up on her dream to venture into space, regardless of the various challenges she faced. She stated that “Imagination is an amazing gift we have as human beings, it allows us to envision what our future could look like.” She was also impressed by the gathering of the Summit, saying “What you’re doing here is inspiring women and girls in other countries (…) they know people care about them.” Every speaker was just as inspiring as the next throughout the course of the Summit. The attendees felt an overwhelming sense of empowerment and exceptional dedication towards the mission of change and equality.
The second day of the Girl Up Leadership Summit was filled with just as much excitement as the first. After a morning dedicated to more strength-celebrating remarks, a highlight came when 10-year-old Amariyanna “Mari” Copeny, also known as Little Miss Flint, made an appearance to discuss her path to becoming one of the youngest female advocates. At the age of 8, Mari received national attention for speaking out against the water crisis in Flint, Michigan. She was invited to the White House to discuss this issue with President Obama, and has since been an advocate against environmental racism. The enthusiasm carried on throughout the afternoon session with panel discussions that included topics like social impact through any career path, turning passion into a livelihood, along with more training workshops for the development of strong young women.
The third and final day of the 2017 Girl Up Leadership Summit was spent on Capitol Hill, where attendees spent the day lobbying H.R. 2408, the Protecting Girls’ Access to Education in Vulnerable Settings Act. It was truly an unforgettable moment for all participants to take what they learned over the previous two days and apply it to something they felt so strongly about. The United Nations Foundation President Kathy Calvin had previously stated on the first day of the Summit, “Stand up for the things you believe in but do it in a way that makes others want to join.”
For more about the 2017 Girl Up Leadership Summit visit https://girlup.org/leadership-summit/#sthash.ZDVKj6zm.dpbs.