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UN Women Advocate Anya Thakur talks International Day of the Girl Child

Anya Thakur on advocating for UN Women and empowerment on International Day of the Girl Child.

Image courtesy of Anya Thakur and UN Women. Designed by Anya Thakur.

Anya Thakur on advocating for UN Women and International Day of the Girl Child.

“You are an important part of Girl Up’s movement — together, let’s show the world the power of girl changemakers,” GirlUp, a UN Women foundation, co-executive directors Anna Blue and Melissa Kilby wrote to me. “We want you to be one of the first to know about the next phase in our incredible collaboration with Disney!”

Today the #DreamBigPrincess video series was launched, produced and directed by 21 aspiring filmmakers from 13 countries.

And as these girls share their stories, I’m sharing mine with you.

I’ve often written about the moments that take your breath away and today on International Day of the Girl Child, I want to reflect on a moment that left me breathless and exultant all because of a young girl in rural India.

These are my words, a reflection on my experience working to empower and educate under-served communities when expanding my work with ShePower, a global organization I founded in partnership with MetoWe and We Movement:

“Bunches of white flowers were woven through long black plaits as these girls donned colorful dupattas, or shawls, and school uniforms for the first time over traditional saris. I watched them run their hands along the glossy covers of textbooks and thumb their pages with a quiet reverence, their eyes fixated on the printed images of other Indian girls like them inside smiling confidently and sharing their words as they stand up and speak out, and toyed with the zippers on their backpacks as their eyes widened with curiosity.

Their faces were flushed with excitement and their movements gradually transitioned from tentative to strong and assured as they threw punches, arms arcing through the air, and placed their feet in fighting stances. A soft-spoken girl came forward and when she landed a blow on a wooden punching board, it snapped cleanly in two along the perforations, the halves added to an increasingly tall stack. We are breaking barriers, both physically and metaphorically.”

Image courtesy of Anya Thakur and UN Women. Designed by Anya Thakur.

I’ve spent months in India — from Delhi, Coimbatore and other parts of Tamil Nadu, Munipur and Mumbai — making my difference and striving to empower and uplift girls and women through health education, self defense and empowerment workshops helping them to unlock their potential. And I’ve spent many more furthering UN Women’s mission to create a world of equality and opportunity by launching a campaign supporting UN Women to advocate for girls’ education, advocating for representation and visibility of women and Asian Americans in media as a journalist for the LA Times, disseminating over five thousand period pads to women in need in downtown Dallas and helming GirlUp Dallas.

From the global head of HeforShe Elizabeth Nyamaro, who I had the opportunity to profile as Medium’s Women’s Voices Editor, to all the interns I’ve connected with at the United Nations who share the dream of eradicating inequality, I am deeply honored to share my work and announce the role I am choosing to take on as a UN Women advocate this International Day of the Girl Child.

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