Over four hundred female youth advocates joined together at the Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center on July 8-9, 2018 to become the next generation of leaders for the movement of gender equality. The Girl Up 7th Annual Leadership Summit is a thought-provoking program designed to empower, educate and encourage the potential of every youth leader. Over the course of three action-packed days, the attendees learned from influential speakers such as Tasia Filippatos, Alyssa Carson, Monique Coleman, and Isha Sesay, participated in skills-based workshops and led an official lobby day on Capitol Hill.
The summit kicked off with the Speaker Series and the “Boost Your Breakfast” sponsored by Special K. Tasia Filippatos, Senior Vice President of Communication at Disney, introduced the “Dream Big Princess: Empowering the Next Generation of Storytellers” initiative to the girls with a generous donation of 1 million dollars to the United Nations Foundation’s Girl Up program. The “Dream Big” campaign focuses on encouraging girls to share their stories and follow their dreams to help impact girls around the world. By amplifying the importance of confidence, preparedness and thoughtfulness, Disney will be working to increase the number of female ‘storytellers’ in our world today.
Alyssa Carson, an Astronaut in Training, inspired everyone in the room with her impressive story called “Lift Off, Lift Up.” Since the age of just three years old, Alyssa wanted to become an Astronaut and decided to pursue her dream. After countless of hours devoted towards achieving her goal, she became the youngest graduate of the space academy and the first person to attend all three NASA programs in the world! She continues to go through rigorous training and space classes to ultimately become the first woman to step on Mars by 2030.
Next on stage was Monique Coleman, actress and Girl Up Champion, who encouraged the girls to have the confidence to believe in themselves in order to unlock their true purpose in life. Her “Believing in the Power of Girls” talk emphasized the importance of not comparing yourself to others and embracing your own unique strengths and weaknesses. When defining success, she believes that, “every time you feel like you have failed and get back up, you are successful.” She truly inspired the girls to believe they have value, the ability to unlock their true purpose and be “the truest, most beautiful version of ourselves.”
Reporting from Nigeria on the kidnapping of more than 200 schoolgirls to covering the deadly Ebola outbreak in West Africa, Isha Sesay founded W.E. Can Lead. Young girls living across the continent of Africa do not have the opportunity to receive an education; W.E. Can Lead’s mission is to ensure those girls get an education, leadership development and a mentor to become the next generation of female leaders. Through it’s five year program, girls ranging in ages 12 to 18 partake in weekly “After School Empowerment clubs.” These sessions are designed to include interactive classroom discussions, public speaking and projects to improve their schools and communities.
Over the course of the summit, attendees participated in skills-based workshops on topics ranging “Storytelling through Emerging Technology” and “Recording Your Dreams” to “Create, Relate, Self-Soothe: Self Expression for Activists.” These sessions enabled the girls to learn innovative skills, explore new topics and collaborate with other future leaders.
On the final day of the Summit, attendees visited Capitol Hill to discuss federal policies and ideas on how to empower young women in developing countries with congressmen/women. Overall, the girls left the summit believing they can make a difference in the world and motivated to do so. The Girl Up initiative will not stop until gender equality is achieved worldwide. To learn more about Girl Up’s initiatives and how you can get involved, click here: https://www.girlup.org/#sthash.LVja5jec.dpbs