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Girls Take Over from Prime Ministers and CEOs

LONDON - From Peru to Japan, girls from across the world will take over from prime ministers, mayors, and CEOs to mark this year’s International Day of the Girl on October 11th.

By holding more than 500 “takeovers” in more than 60 countries, girls will demand a political and social revolution against the discrimination and prejudice which hold them back in private and public life.

The Prime Minister of Finland, El Salvador’s Minister of Health and the head of the Ugandan police force are among the leading figures who will be symbolically ceding control to girls.

“Girls worldwide face a wall of resistance in their struggle to progress and realise their dreams. They often have no power over the decisions they make or the choices they have,” said Anne-Birgitte Albrectsen, CEO of Plan International. “The takeover action is an emphatic statement of girls’ power and potential. When girls get equal opportunities and equal chances in life, they can transform their lives and their communities.”

By participating in the takeovers, more than 1,000 girls will stand alongside Plan International in calling on governments to make girls’ rights a global political priority, to encourage other girls and young women to step forward as leaders and decision makers, and to have their voices heard on the great challenges they face.

In Paraguay, every state-run school in the country will be led by girls, while in Nepal, girls’ voices will be heard across the airwaves as radio stations in hundreds of communities open their doors to them for the day.

Also on October 11th, Plan International will bring together more than 400 global girls’ rights activists in government, entertainment, business, sports, and media in Paris to celebrate and call for increased action for gender equality.

Confirmed attendees at the girls’ rights summit, which will be livestreamed around the world, include the Mayor of Paris and Ingrid Nilsen, the YouTube star who famously interviewed former U.S. president Barack Obama about gender equality.

“There are too many girls in the world who are not allowed to go to school and too many women who are not heard in their society,” said Juha Sipilä, the Prime Minister of Finland, who will be advised for the day by Katariina, 16.

“Gender equality is one of the key pillars of Finnish society. It’s also essential for global development. Plan International’s global takeovers provide an excellent opportunity to encourage girls to claim challenging positions in society.”

The global takeovers place girls in places of influence where they are rarely seen or heard. Only 22 percent of the world’s parliamentarians are women and there are only 14 female heads of state globally. Fewer than 5 percent of cities - where most young women and girls will grow up and make their living - are led by women.

Achieving gender equality is one of the Global Goals that were agreed by world leaders in 2015 and which promise to transform the world by 2030. Plan International is warning that without a seismic shift in political and social attitudes, this goal, alongside others, cannot be realized.

“Millions of girls around the world live in fear of discrimination, stigmatization, and violence simply for daring to make their dreams a reality. Millions more live with no hope of ever realising their potential due to poverty and inequality,” said Ms. Albrectsen. “We must close the dream gap between what girls are capable of and what girls are allowed to be. It's time to create more concrete opportunities for all girls to be who they want to be and show the world the incredible power of unleashing the potential of girls.”

Notes to Editors: Plan International experts are available for interviews.

  • More than 500 takeovers will be taking place in more than 60 countries.
  • More than 1,000 children and young people are participating.
  • High-profile roles being occupied by girls include the Secretary General of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), the Deputy Prime Minister of Belgium, the Mayor of Dublin, the CEO of Google Australia, the CEO of Ikea Switzerland, the CEO of Unilever Canada, the CEO of Accenture Netherlands and the global CEO of Plan International.
  • Melinda Gates, the co-founder of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, will have her social media channels taken over by a girl.
  • Indonesia: Girls will take over the Ministry of Women's Empowerment and Children to urge the government to keep its promise to end child marriage. They are aiming to secure a meeting with the President of Indonesia.
  • Uganda: A girl will be taking over as host of a national talk show to remind national stakeholders of their commitment to the Sustainable Development Goals most critical to girls.
  • Honduras: Girls will be taking over roles within the National Congress including President and Vice President. They will push for a new law to be approved around sex education.
  • Egypt: Girls will be taking over the Ministry of Social Solidarity and calling on the government to provide safe spaces for girls in cities.
  • Plan International’s report, Unlock the Power of Girls Now, to be released on October 2nd, shows that girls across the world are eager to challenge gender discrimination but are routinely beaten down by obstacles.

About Plan International USA

Plan International is an independent development and humanitarian organization that advances children’s rights and equality for girls. Plan believes in the power and potential of every child. Working together with children, young people, supporters, and partners, Plan strives for a just world, tackling the root causes of the challenges facing girls and all vulnerable children. For more information, please visit planusa.org.

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