In order to address the complex and interdependent issues that exist in our world today, people across the gender spectrum must work in partnership for collective impact and systemic change. To facilitate and support this, It’s Time Network is building a national network of individuals and organizations across sectors that engage, support, and elevate women and girls, so we can work collectively to evolve democracy, build fair economies, and regenerate the Earth.
Comprised of innovative, independent thought leaders representing a full spectrum of issues, sectors and lived experiences, It’s Time Network’s National Advisory Council guides and supports these efforts. We are honored to count Dr. Denise Raquel Dunning, as an original member of the National Advisory Council. Denise is the Founder and Executive Director of Rise Up, an organization that unifies the power of Let Girls Lead, Champions for Change and the Youth Champions Initiative, to benefit 115 million girls, youth, and women globally.
Much like It’s time Network, Rise Up harnesses the power of collaborative action, partnering with other organizations to create meaningful change on critical issues. Rise Up’s initiatives are leading the fight for healthy families and empowering girls to lead social change by sharing their stories and creating their own solutions for building better lives for themselves and future generations.
With back to school season in full swing, we are reminded of the lack of education available to young girls across the globe, an issue that is a strategic priority for Rise Up. Right now, adolescent girls across the globe are struggling to overcome widespread poverty, gain access to education and health services, and remain safe from widespread gender-based violence. Through Let Girls Lead, part of Rise Up’s mission is to catalyze scalable change for girls by investing in visionary leaders and local organizations through leadership development, organizational strengthening, grant-making, and advocacy. In its mission to improve laws, policies, funding, and programs for girls in Africa and Latin America, Let Girls Lead is contributing to better health, education, livelihoods, and rights for nearly 40 million girls globally. This fall, Let Girls Lead has supported millions of girls in attending school in safe environments, and beginning their journeys toward an empowered future.
For Dunning and the Rise Up team, this is just the beginning. While much has been accomplished to increase girls’ access to education, health services, and economic opportunity, there is much more work to be done. Their message is simple: When girls have the power to transform their lives, families, and communities, the world will be a better place.
That’s why Rise Up is investing in leaders and organizations that are making remarkable advancements in the lives’ of young girls. Here is some of the great work they’ve done to date:
- Passing and Implementation of the National Children’s Law: In 2007, a landmark bill was drafted, designed to secure children’s rights to education, healthcare, and inheritance, among other provisions. The bill was not passed for three years, until civil society groups and youth advocates like Let Girls Lead worked tirelessly on renewed efforts. On September 15, 2011 the Children’s Act officially passed, and for the first time in the country’s history, every Liberian child is guaranteed fundamental civil rights.
- Combatting Violence Against Girls in Guatemala: In response to Guatemala's widespread gender-based violence, the National Association Against Child Abuse (CONACMI) began focusing more specifically on violence against children and adolescent girls throughout the country. Let Girls Lead has joined in on the efforts, reducing teen pregnancy and HIV infection rates by improving youth access to comprehensive education and services in Guatemala and Honduras.
- Ending Child Marriage in Malawi: In many Malawian villages, parents arrange marriages for their daughters at a very young age. Through a partnership between Let Girls Lead and Malawi’s Girls Empowerment Network (GENET), women and girls are empowered stay in school, and take a stand against child marriage by advocating for themselves to village chiefs. Progress continues to be made through an ongoing national campaign to increase the legal age of marriage to 18.
We are inspired by Denise and her team’s work to raise awareness around issues that affect women all over the world, and find solutions to address them. You can learn more about the broad range of issues their work impacts, and stay updated on their progress by visiting their website, or connecting on social: Facebook,Twitter, Google+, and LinkedIn.
In order to create systemic change, we all need to work together, starting in our own communities. That’s why we developed the Mayor's Guide to accelerating gender equality, which acts as a guide for mayors and local leaders (like you!) to elevate the status of women and girls at the local level.
One of the Mayors Guide chapters focuses on girl’s leadership and STEM, shedding light on the disadvantages women and girls face, and how we can create change. The guide explains that, although women are earning more degrees than men, they often work in jobs that pay less. In order for us to create a better world, women and girls must be fully represented in positions of leadership and across industries. To learn more, download your copy of the Mayors Guide here.