Girl Up

by United Nations Foundation
Student in Ethiopia (Photo Credit: Jiro Oso)
Student in Ethiopia (Photo Credit: Jiro Oso)

Since 2012, Girl Up has helped more than 20,000 girls in developing countries. In Ethiopia, 11,300 girls have benefitted through business trainings, micro-grants, educational scholarships and solar lamps. Watch our new video to see the impact YOU helped create

Girl Up’s partnership with UNCHR in Ethiopia aims to tackle needs and challenges that refugee girls face. Our efforts focus on three priorities:

  • Education Support - Adolescent girls receive required backpacks and uniforms so they can attend school. Since girls must do household chores during the day, the program also supplies lanterns so girls can study after the sun goes down. High-achieving young women are offered scholarships to trade schools or universities.
  • Creating Safe Schools - In order to ensure that adolescent girls feel comfortable at school, the program has built girl-only washrooms and has constructed female dormitories for the older girls attending post-secondary vocational schools. In addition, teachers undergo trainings on the importance creating safe spaces in the classroom that are free of harassment.
  • Improving Family Economies - Families too poor to send their daughters to school are offered trainings in business development and provided microloans after the training is completed. With an increased income these families can afford to educate their daughters.

Last month, Girl Up visited United Nations programs in Ethiopia to see our impact firsthand. Through UNHCR, Girl Up is supporting Somali refugees who have fled their homes and now live in Ethiopia in the Kebribeyah Refugee Camp, which currently hosts approximately 15,770 refugees; Aw-barre Refugee Camp, which hosts approximately 12,650 refugees; and Sheder Refugee Camp, which hosts approximately 10,760 refugees.

Members of the Girl Up team met a family with six daughters in the Sheder camp. All six girls are going to school and getting an education thanks to UNHCR and Girl Up's support. Throughout the camps, girls now have access to solar lamps that help keep girls safe and allow them to complete their studies at night. 

Another girl, Saida, livs in the Aw-Barre camp. Saida is 18 years old and in fifth grade.  Her favorite subjects are chemistry and math, and one day she wants to be a doctor.  Her family fled violence in Mogadishu three years ago, but she’s grateful for her education and looks forward to her future.

Because of your support, more girls will have a brighter future. Get excited by the numbers, but don't be fooled: There is much more for us to do. 

Thank you for your support. 

Girl Leaders (Photo Credit: Jiro Oso)
Girl Leaders (Photo Credit: Jiro Oso)
Going to class (Photo Credit: Jiro Oso)
Going to class (Photo Credit: Jiro Oso)



Invest in a girl and you will help unlock a brighter future. That's what Girl Up and its 360,000 supporters from around the world believe. 

In the three years since the Girl Up campaign launched, we are proud to have reached 19,753 adolescent girls in developing countries by supporting UN programs that provide access to education, keep girls healthy and safe, and build their leadership skills. Together, we have raised more than 2.8 million dollars for critical programs that help marginalized girls in Ethiopia, Guatemala, Liberia and Malawi reach their full potential.

Because of supporters like you, we have been able to empower girls such as Namda, a 14 year old refugee from Somalia. One of six children, her father was killed and her eldest sister brutally raped. After arriving in Ethiopia, Namda embraced her education. She is the second highest performing student in school and she loves economics and social science.  “We can change our lives if we learn skills – without learning we are in the dark. Our country has no resources and I want to be an economist to help rebuild my community. I feel safe and happy at this school.”

We want to continue to ensure that girls like Namda aspire to be economists - or doctors, pilots and presidents. It starts with a book, a pencil, a mentor, a safe space. Invest in a girl and she will do the rest. 

You see a girl. We see the future. 

Girl Up Teen Advisor in Guatemala
Girl Up Teen Advisor in Guatemala

The past few months have been incredible for Girl Up, from partnering with the groundbreaking film Girl Rising, a production of 10x10, to brining more than 100 girls and youth leaders from across the U.S. together for the second annual Girl Up Leadership Summit. 

Girl Up is one of seven impact partners of the film Girl Rising, which showcases the lives of nine inspiring girls from nine different countries. As an impact partner, Girl Up will receive a portion of all the proceeds generated from this powerful film. Girl Up's network of more than 300,000 supporters and 350 clubs have been showing Girl Rising on their campuses and at their local theaters to raise awareness about the issue of education. Check out the trailer at to learn more about the film.

This past spring, Girl Up traveled to Guatemala to see the impact of our programs. The main priority for the Girl Up-supported programs in the Western Highland indigenous areas of Guatemala is to give girls opportunities - to have goals and dreams and to reach for them - by helping to support educational opportunities and build community programs that help girls reach their full potential. Read stories from the trip on the Girl Up blog. 

We're concluding the summer excited to announce that this past year, Girl Up Clubs came together to reach their fundraising goal for the 2012-2013 school year - raising $45,900 to support 200 girls-only clubs in Malawi. With back-to-school quickly approaching, we are gearing up for another successful school year. Stay update on our clubs' progress throughout the year at 

While we are strong, together we are stronger. 

Leadership Summit attendees on Capitol Hill
Leadership Summit attendees on Capitol Hill


Victoria Justice visits UN programs in Guatemala
Victoria Justice visits UN programs in Guatemala

Girl Up has been leading the movement for adolescent girls around the world, from standing up for girls’ education to helping end child marriage in developing countries. In recent months, Girl Up supporters have rallied behind Malala Yousafzai, the brave 15-year-old advocate for girls’ education who was shot in the head by the Taliban, by sending her thousands of messages of hope and get well wishes. ABC News, inspired by the outpouring of support from teens across the country, aired some of these messages of hope for Malala on February 4, 2013.

In January 2013, supporters from across the country also helped Girl Up Champion Victoria Justice reach her $20,000 fundraising goal for Girl Up. As a thank you, Victoria released an exclusive music video of her song “Girl Up”—inspired by a recent trip to Guatemala where she visited UN programs serving the hardest-to-reach adolescent girls. The song and music video share a powerful message about the importance of investing in girls so they can be educated, healthy, safe and leaders in their communities.

The work doesn’t stop there. After years of advocacy in support of ending child marriage in developing countries, Girl Up helped secure a legislative win for girls everywhere by sending thousands of messages to their elected officials—resulting in passage of legislation that requires the implementation of development assistance programs to reduce child marriage in countries where the problem is most prevalent.

We’re not done yet. In the coming months, our Girl Up Clubs, Teen Advisors and supporters will continue the momentum as they raise awareness about girls’ education by hosting screenings of the powerful new film Girl Rising in their local theaters and schools. Will you join the movement? Sign up for a theater or campus screening today. 

Thank you!

Girl Up


Girl Up Teen Advisors
Girl Up Teen Advisors

In October, the Girl Up campaign celebrated the first-ever UN International Day of the Girl with over 60 grassroots, girl-led events held around the world. From Los Angeles to Ghana, Girl Up Clubs and supporters spread the word about International Day of the Girl in their local communities by hosting events such as pep rallies, bake sales and fashion shows. The Girl Up community has also rallied in support of Malala Yousafzai, a 15-year old girl from Pakistan who suffered a terrible tragedy when she was shot in the head by the Taliban for being an advocate for girls' education. Girl Up supports from across the U.S. have been sending inspirational letters to Malala and donating the The Malala Fund to support the education and empowerment of girls around the world in her honor.

Also in October, Girl Up convened it’s third class of Teen Advisors in New York City for a weekend of skills-building and leadership training. Girl Up Teen Advisors, comprised of 16 teens from nine different states, serve a year-long term as ambassadors of the campaign—raising the profile of Girl Up in the media, at events and in their local communities. While in New York, the Teen Advisors completed media, advocacy and fundraising trainings, in addition to attending high-level events at the United Nations.

The campaign continues to grow its movement of nearly 300,000 advocates taking a stand for girls around the world. We recently hit a milestone of over 200,000 supporters on Facebook who are sharing the work of Girl Up to their own social networks. As we look ahead to the holiday season, we are celebrating the impact being made around the world when we invest in adolescent girls. Girl Up Champion Victoria Justice, who witnessed this impact first-hand during a trip to see Girl Up’s work is Guatemala, challenged her fans to help her reach her $20,000 fundraising goal this giving season. You can help Victoria reach her goal on her GirlRaiser personal fundraising page.  


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Organization Information

United Nations Foundation

Location: Washington, DC - USA
Website: http:/​/​
Project Leader:
Melissa Hillebrenner
Washington, DC United States

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