October 11th marks a special date to celebrate girls’ resilience and empowerment, when we analyze how far we’ve come and how much further we can go in ensuring that girls everywhere have access to the opportunities they need to thrive. This year’s International Day of the Girls’ theme is “GirlForce: Unscripted and unstoppable.” This theme perfectly describes the MAIA Girl Pioneers and their bold path to empowerment. They are trailblazers who are forging a new path through education, mentorship, and leadership development to achieve their infinite impact.
At MAIA, we believe in the importance of girls’ voices and girl leaders. For far too long, girls have been left out of important conversations about their rights and their future. The world has been making decisions for them rather than with them. This is why we partnered with She’s The First, Akili Dada, and hundreds of girls around the world to develop the International Girls’ Bill of Rights, written by girls, for girls, everywhere. This campaign aims to start a worldwide conversation on the rights that girls deserve and demand.
Here at the MAIA Impact School, mentors led classroom discussions about girls’ rights. Girl Pioneers selected what they believe are the top rights every girl should have. Three leaders from each mentorship class then participated in a debate, where MAIA’s top rights were decided. We submitted our responses online, and a global panel of girls (including one Girl Pioneer) reviewed over 1,000 responses from all around the world and together selected the final 10 rights for the International Girls’ Bill of Rights.
Read the Girls’ Bill of Rights today and join us in amplifying their voices.
All girls have the right to…
1) Free, quality education which prepares them for the modern world: We deserve equal opportunity to attend school all the way to graduation, and we deserve freedom and safe transportation to get there. A girl's right to school should not be impacted by her cultural background, her pregnancy status, or the money her family may lack.
2) Equality: We should be free from discrimination and stereotypes because of being a girl, whether at home, at school, or in our communities. We should have access to equal opportunities and we should never be harassed nor oppressed due to what we wear, what we do, or how we express ourselves.
3) Involvement in decision-making and pursuit of leadership positions without fear of discrimination, harassment, or persecution: Girls must be allowed to decide what our future holds and be able to lead just as much as boys in school, at home, or in the community. Any decision that affects us should include us in a position of authority. We have the right for our voices to be listened to and respected.
4) Documentation: Every girl has the right to access or acquire all legal and academic documents that will allow her to access opportunities and lead a full life recognized by relevant authorities.
5) Comprehensive sexual education and access to free, quality reproductive healthcare: This includes an education that informs us about our rights, consent, contraception, and healthy relationships. We should also have access to abortion and to proper healthcare, without criticism or shame.
6) Protection from harmful traditions and enjoyment of positive cultural practices: We must be kept safe from non-consensual practices, and be given the opportunity to express the positive elements of our cultures.
7) Safety from all forms of violence: All girls deserve healthy and safe relationships, including with romantic partners, parents, and family members. We should be safe from violence in all locations. All girls deserve shelter, clothing, and food.
8) Decision-making about their body & sexuality: Girls have the right to choose who they love, regardless of gender, and to express their sexuality without censure. We have a right to say “no” and to choose who, when, and if we will marry.
9) Protection under the law without fear or unequal treatment: Every girl has the right to seek legal protection in any situation where she feels insecure or undergoes an experience that needs legal attention, without being judged or her claim disregarded. No girl should ever be in a position where she has to choose to be silent due to fear of lack of legal protection.
10) Freedom from exploitation: All girls deserve a happy childhood. We should never be forced to work, and we should be kept safe from child trafficking and early marriage.
One of MAIA’s strategic goals is to unlock leadership potential. We want Girl Pioneers to become leaders and to voice their beliefs wherever they are. The results of this approach are tangible; for example, 62% of our Legacy Mentorship Program graduates are part of a community service project, and 58% of participants hold a formal leadership position within an organization. Through the Girls’ Bill of Rights activity, students used their critical-thinking and vocal empowerment skills. By strengthening these competencies, Girl Pioneers will have the tools needed to advocate for girls through their unique perspective and become leaders in their communities to enact the change that is needed.