On October 31st, the world’s population will reach 7 billion. With this
historical milestone in sight, UNFPA (United Nations Population Fund) has issued a call-to-action to renew our commitment to work for a healthier, more sustainable world. How women and girls become change-agents in their own lives and how we empower them is crucial to this effort.
On Tuesday afternoon, the UNFPA and National Geographic held a conference in Washington, DC on Unleashing the Power of Women and Girls. Participating in the panel were representatives from the World Bank, the State Department, the International Women’s Health Coalition and The Kakenya Center for Excellence as well as celebrities. Each panelist told their story of how they work to improve the lives of women around the world. Kakenya Ntaiya had the most striking story. As a young woman in Kenya she told her father she would undergo FGM (female genital mutilation) if she could get an education. What a horrible barter to make for an education. But she was determined to get an education and live life as she wanted. She is now pursuing her Doctorate at the University of Pittsburgh. But along the way she returned to Kenya and established a school for girls – The Kakenya Center for Excellence –to help girls with education, self-realization and leadership. Now, through her activism & work, no other girl in her village will be subject to FGM.
Singer & Actress Natalie Imbruglia spoke of her work with UNFPA to end Fistula – a condition resulting from difficult childbirth that can be fixed with surgery but that leaves many women and girls isolated for much of their lives. Alexandra Garita from the International Women’s Health Coalition (IWHC) discussed the need for greater sex education for everyone.
All of these people are change-agents. They empower others to help, they inspire us to be better and work harder. I invite you to share the videos from both National Geographic and UNFPA. Join them in their 7 Billion Call-to-Action by sharing your story. By forwarding a video, writing an article or tweeting, you participate in the movement. You help raise awareness of these issues and hopefully create change for the girls of tomorrow.
This piece was written by Lauren Supina Farber