Since 2012, 11th October has been globally marked as the International Day of the Girl. This day aims to highlight and address the needs of girls and the challenges that girls go through, while promoting girls’ empowerment and the fulfillment of their human rights. The International Day of the Girl seeks to promote the empowerment of adolescent girls, and advocate for the attainment of their basic human rights, such as education, bodily autonomy, and the like.
The theme of the International Day of the Girl this year is “My voice, our equal future”. Adolescent girls around the world will be uniting their voices to assert their power as change-makers; The girls will focus on their demands to: Live free from gender-based violence, harmful traditional practices, and HIV and AIDS; Learn new skills towards the futures they choose; and Lead as a generation of activists accelerating social change. In Nigeria, we seek to create the platform for girls to speak up and articulate for themselves the different experiences they have and how they are affected by those experiences, particularly the violation of their rights, exclusion and marginalization that they experience in various spheres of life.
Since 2016, Girls Voices Initiative has hosted the Girl Summit to mark the International Day of the Girl and girls have come to embrace the platform for critical engagement with policymakers and other stakeholders. Sadly, the COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted global activities, particularly the capacity to convene physical meetings like the Girl Summit event. However, we are happy to explore an online solution to this challenge to host the Girl Summit as a virtual convening to provide girls with this important platform for engagement. There is no doubt that the year 2020 dealt untold havoc in the lives of girls all over the world and statistics have revealed worse indices of gender based violence, harmful traditional practices, and other violations that form the focal context of the theme for the IDG celebration.
The International Day of the Girl has been a key global moment to celebrate the power of girls and highlight the barriers girls face. Due to the global impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, the International Day of the Girl will be celebrated online, this year. Girls all over Nigeria will be given the opportunity to send in their videos, write poems and articles, sing songs, come up with amazing art and apps which will be posted on various Girls Voices platforms. And the Girl Summit event will be hosted online as a virtual summit.
The content of the Girl Summit is primarily driven by the girls as it is not the intention of this Summit to pre-empt the conversation of the girls. This underscores the theme of the IDG celebration, ‘My Voice, Our Equal Future’ and this is how we can support adolescent girls to thrive in their authentic voice and expression. The girls will be briefed on the context of the Summit as well as the thematic issues to be discussed, however, they will be left to drive the discussion as the issues are being raised. On the whole, girls should be able to confidently share their experiences of challenges they have been encountering as well as the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on their lives. It is important to note that there is balance in the conversations to not only highlight the woes of girls’ rights violations across the country but also to share about the rising opportunities for girls to find their voice, to learn new skills and access global opportunities. Girls Voices Initiative is also running an online campaign to collect content from girls about their expressions of the IDG theme and the voices collated will also be shared with the Girl Summit participants to unite girls voices in this unique IDG celebration.
The Girl Summit event will hold on October 12, 2020 by 11:00am – 12:30pm WAT on Zoom. The Zoom event will be moderated by the Adolescent Girls Advisory Board Team at Girls Voices Initiative and details of the event will be shared to invited participants.
The Girl Summit 2020 will target adolescent girls across Nigeria with attention paid to the six (6) Geo-political zones to allow us to hear the voices from girls in the different regions and states. There will be various levels of participation from girls; first as moderators of the event facilitating the agenda and the discussions, second, as panel discussants, and thirdly as Summit delegates. There will be shadow participation from other stakeholders especially development practitioners who will take key learning from the girls to inform their programming for girls.
BENEFICIARIES AND IMPACTS
Adolescent girls are the primary beneficiaries and development practitioners and other delegates are secondary beneficiaries of the Summit event which will invariably extend to the public as we start to amplify the feedback from the girls in post-summit communications. The voices of girls collected from a variety of content anticipated from girls to mark the IDG celebration will also be shared at this summit and shared to policy makers who can act. The Girl Summit is largely organized by adolescent girls and is exemplary of girls leadership which continues to inspire and impact other adolescent girls who see what their fellow girls have done to believe in the power of girls’ voices as the future of tomorrow.
The Girl Summit Project is managed by Girls Voices Initiative and will be coordinated directly by the Adolescent Girls Advisory Board at Girls Voices Initiative.