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#EUGirlsWeek 2017: When Girls took over the EU

The 7th European Week of Action for Girls was organised by Plan International EU Office and seven other civil society organisations to celebrate the International Day of the Girl on 11 October. With a series of #GirlsTakeover, Ritah and Maria Fernanda proved that #GirlsCan lead and inspire! The European Week of Action for Girls is now firmly established in the EU institutional calendar. This year, the European Commission, the European Parliament, and the United Nations granted their high patronage to the Week and actively participated in the events.

#GIRLSTAKEOVER THE EU

TAKEOVER OF FIRST VICE-PRESIDENT FRANS TIMMERMANS

Ritah "took over" the position of Frans Timmermans, First Vice-President of the European Commission. After an initial discussion in Frans Timmermans’ office about Ritah’s experience and the remaining progress to be made to achieve gender equality and empower girls in Uganda, Frans Timmermans and Ritah went to the Council of the EU to participate in an event introducing the new Gender Equality Index. Frans Timmermans and Ritah delivered closing remarks.

TAKEOVER OF MARA MARINAKI

Maria Fernanda met with Ambassador Mara Marinaki, EEAS Principal Advisor on Gender. She explained her concerns about the situation of girls’ rights and gender equality in Brazil, and especially about  early marriage and pregnancy, traditional gender roles that keep girls and women at home, gender-based violence, and the lack of girls’ participation in schools and societies. Ambassador Marinaki expressed interest in hearing from more girls in Brazil and showed willingness to remain engaged.

TAKEOVER OF HEIDI HAUTALA MEP

Maria Fernanda "took over" Heidi Hautala, Member of the European Parliament, Vice-Chair of the Group of Greens/European Free Alliance. Maria Fernanda spoke at a meeting in the Heinrich Boell Foundation (the German Foundation of the Green Party) to express her views on gender equality. Heidi Hautala underlined how important and empowering it is for girls to actually see women in leader positions, and encouraged girls to speak out every day.

TAKEOVER OF LINDA MCAVAN MEP

As part of the takeover of Linda McAvan, Member of the European Parliament and Chair of the Committee on Development, Ritah from Uganda met with the Ambassador of Canada to the EU, Daniel Costello, to discuss Canada’s new feminist development policy.

TAKEOVER OF THE AMBASSADOR OF BRAZIL TO THE EU

Maria Fernanda "took over" the Ambassador of Brazil to the EU, Everton Vieira Vargas, and chaired a meeting with his staff working on political and human rights affairs. She shared her ideas on gender equality and on how to improve the situation in Brazil.

GIRLS' INTERVENTIONS IN THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT

DEVE/FEMM EXCHANGE OF VIEWS

Ritah and Maria Fernanda intervened in the joint exchange of views of the Committees on Development and Women’s Rights and Gender Equality on the implementation of the Gender Action Plan. They spoke about their experiences in Uganda and Brazil, shared their views on gender equality, and made recommendations to the EU and the European Parliament.

ACP-EU JPA COMITTEE OF SOCIAL AFFAIRS AND THE ENVIRONMENT

Ritah spoke about the importance of education for the promotion of girls’ empowerment at a meeting of the Committee of Social Affairs and the Environment of the ACP-EU Joint Parliamentary Assembly at the European Parliament. She urged the EU to increase its funding for education in the next budget.

#GIRLSCAN : COMMON ACTIVITIES

GIRLS' SUMMIT

The European Week of Action for Girls “Girls' Summit” took place on 11 October to mark the International Day of the Girl Child. The Summit brought together girls from around the world to tell their stories and what needs to change in order for them to succeed. They were joined by: 

  • Barbara Pesce Monteiro, Director of the United Nations in Brussels, 
  • Aline Zeler, captain of the Belgian national women’s football team, the Belgian Red Flames
  • and Irena Andrassy, Deputy Head of Cabinet, Commissioner Mimica, who reacted to our recommendations to the EU.

FACEBOOK LIVE WITH JEAN-LOUIS VILLE

We partnered with DevCo to organise a Facebook live discussion to launch the European Week of Action for Girls. Ritah and Nicole shared their views on girls’ rights and gender equality with Jean-Louis Ville, Acting Director of People and Peace, DG International Development and Cooperation (DevCo), European Commission. Tanya Cox (Plan International EU Office) moderated the discussion. The discussion was live streamed on the Facebook account of DevCo. 42k people were reached, close to 13k people watched the discussion.

#GIRLSCAN SOCIAL MEDIA CAMPAIGN

We also partnered with DevCo to organise the #GirlsCan social media campaign, sharing pictures, videos and messages from girls around the world. #GirlsCan was the primary hashtag for the European Week of Action for Girls 2017, with a potential reach of 5.3M people.

INFOPOINT CONFERENCE : REFUGEE GIRLS CAN SUCCEED

Plan International Egypt presented the ECHO funded Children of Peace Project 2016-2018 “Zamalah: Learning Together Safely”, at an InfoPoint conference organised by DevCo. They provided specific examples from the "girls’ circles" activities carried out with adolescent Syrian refugee girls who are out of school. This project aims to increase girls’ self-confidence and life skills, raise girls’ awareness of their rights, including the right to education, as well as on how to react to gender-based violence and sexual harassment.