On 11th October, mothers2mothers UK (m2m UK) celebrated the 7th International Day of the Girl Child, aimed at highlighting the opportunities and challenges that young girls face across the globe. With 1.1 billion girls in the world, m2m is committed to helping the next generation fulfil its huge potential and ensuring that the girls we work with thrive, not just survive.
Joining this global celebration of girls, m2m UK held a champagne breakfast and panel event in London with a powerhouse line-up of speakers, kindly hosted by The Library. The panel brought together m2m Patron Rochelle Humes, award-winning activist Mercy Ngulube, Grl Pwr Gang Founder Kirsti Nicole-Hadley, Italian entrepreneur and activist Paola Diana and m2m’s very own Emma France to inspire action and champion girl’s rights. Chairing the panel was Marie Claire UK’s Feature Editor, Tracy Ramsden, who skillfully steered the conversation across diverse topics including peer support and gender equality, to sexual health and being a teenage activist!
The panelists were clear that despite significant progress towards the promotion of girls’ rights, we still have a long way to go to ensure they have a say in their future. Youth engagement was seen as a key vehicle to make this a reality.
Mercy Ngulube, who’s used her own experience of living with HIV to advocate for the equality of other people living with HIV, reminded the audience that girls need to be better represented in discussions about HIV and their rights more generally: “I would love to see a new generation of activists this time next year. The voices of girls are often missing from these important conversations. As a woman living with HIV, I can see that it’s a space dominated by men and I want to change that”.
m2m’s Global Development & Strategic Engagement Director, Emma France, didn’t mince her words when it came to talking about m2m’s goals: “We want to say no to gender inequality, no to babies being infected with HIV, no to girls not being able to negotiate safe condom use and no to women experiencing stigma associated with their status. We will not stop saying no until every girl can start saying yes to the things they want to do.”
Born and raised a feminist, proud m2m Patron Rochelle Humes spoke about how her trip to Kenya two years ago, during which she witnessed m2m’s work first-hand, inspired her to take action: “It’s unbelievable to think that women and girls are denied equal opportunities during pregnancy. We need to get to a point where we all have the same opportunities – every woman has the right to bring a baby into the world safely.”
Tracy Ramsden summed up the inspiring discussion: “We are now seeing a world where women and girls are galvanised into action. It’s important that we now collectively agree what the next step is and how we take it forward”.
If you are inspired by all our girl power and positivity why not host a Wonder Women Tea? Whether it’s around a cup of tea, cocktails or muffins and cakes, you can help raise funds and join a global movement to support m2m Mentor Mothers in sub-Saharan Africa. Email Roisin.McGovern@m2m.org to host yours!