This year, despite the restrictions in place due to the coronavirus pandemic, we managed to host a series of events in honour of International Day of the Girl 2020. The Girls Takeover events gave members of our Youth Advisory Panel (YAP) the opportunity to step into the shoes of leaders, and platform the issues faced by girls and young women in Ireland and across the world. We also launched the #FreeToBeOnline campaign here in Ireland with some fantastic speakers and panellists.
Find out more about everything we did to mark International Day of the Girl 2020!
On the 8th of October we held a virtual event to launch the global Free To Be Online? report as well the findings of the Irish research into the abuse and harassment perpetrated against girls and young women online. The event featured contributions from Minister of State for Overseas Development Aid and the Diaspora Colm Brophy, Chair of Plan International Ireland Conor Faughnan, our ambassador Laura Whitmore, and Anne Marie McCarthy and Manre Chirtau based in the Lake Chad region. The report launch was followed by a panel discussion on online gender-based violence with journalist Aoife Moore, DJ & Broadcaster Tara Stewart, and Amy Keane from our Youth Advisory Panel. The lively panel discussion was moderated by Plan International Ireland ambassador Diana Bunici.
We are very grateful to everyone who gave so generously of their time and insights for the event!
You can watch Minister of State Colm Brophy’s address highlighting the importance of equal and safe access to the internet for girls and women across the world, and the need for girls and young women to live their lives free from all forms of gender-based violence here. Watch our ambassador Laura Whitmore present the findings of the global and Irish research, and call for change, here.
Alternatively, you can watch the full event, including the panel discussion, above!
Girls Takeovers give girls & young women the opportunity to step into leadership positions in business, politics or media and platform issues that are important to them.
YAP member Jessica Gill engaged in a Girls Takeover event with Minister O’Gorman to mark International Day of the Girl 2020. She spoke to the Minister about the Freedom Online campaign and the abuse and harassment experienced by girls and young women on social media, as well as other issues facing girls and young women in Ireland and across the world.
Kadiatu Tholley, a youth advocate from Sierra Leone, took part in a joint virtual Girls Takeover alongside Jessica Gill from Ireland with Irish Aid’s Orla Mc Breen. The event was a great opportunity to highlight the differences and the commonalities in the barriers faced by girls in different parts of the world. Kadiatu spoke of the risk of child marriage for girls in Sierra Leone which forces them to drop out of school, while boys can stay in education. In Sierra Leone, it is very hard for girls to speak out on issues that affect them. Gender norms and stereotypes mean that girls are not allowed the same platforms or consideration as their male counterparts.
Both Kadiatu and Jessica spoke about the importance of girls stepping up into leadership positions including through Girls Takeover events. Kadiatu said: ‘We can be powerful, we can even be the next president of Sierra Leone- we have the potential to be there!’ Orla emphasised how gender equality is at the heart of Ireland’s policy framework for international development, A Better World, and reaffirmed Ireland’s commitment to listening to girls’ voices and lived experience when advocating for policy change.
As most events had to take place virtually this year as a result of restrictions in place due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it offered the us the opportunity to engage with influencers and ambassadors on social media platforms. YAP member Amy had an in-depth discussion with Plan International Ireland ambassador Marissa Carter about the issue of online harassment and abuse, and the important role that social media companies have in preventing and responding to this form of gender-based violence. Marissa spoke about the profound experience she had when she visited Guinea Bissau with Plan International in 2018, and both herself and Amy talked about the need to tackle inequalities from the global to the national and local level.
You can watch the whole interview back on Marissa’s Instagram feed.
The Lord Mayor of Dublin Hazel Chu has received plenty of racist and sexist abuse online since becoming involved in politics. Our YAP had a Zoom call with the Lord Mayor and filled her in on the Freedom Online campaign and the high rates of online gender-based violence experienced by girls and young women. The Lord Mayor spoke with members of our YAP about the harassment she herself has faced, and the need for fit-for-purpose legislation to be in place to deter perpetrators and hold them accountable under the law. During their discussion, the Lord Mayor raised the point about how we would not tolerate someone coming to a person’s house holding a sign threatening assault or harassment, so the same should not be allowed go unaddressed on social media platforms. They also discussed the core role of youth advocacy in creating positive changes in society.
Amy and Jessica joined Annette Hickey and Maeve Dorman, two senior directors at PayPal, for a Girls Takeover over Zoom. They discussed the enduring glass ceiling, how women navigate gender-specific barriers in their careers, and the overall lack of female representation in senior management positions in Ireland and beyond. Maeve and Annette gave some advice to Amy and Jessica on how to ensure they get a seat at the table during their careers and ensure that their voices are heard – including advice on networking, making connections and building a support network around them in pursuing their careers. They finished the discussion by talking about the Freedom Online campaign and the shocking statistics showing the extent of abuse and harassment faced by girls and young women on social media.
This year was YAP member Aoife’s second time being involved in events for IDG. Building on her experience, she took the initiative to organise her own takeover with an organisation that shares Plan’s mission of celebrating girls and young women all over the world: The Shona Project. Aoife liaised with the organisation’s founder, Tammy Darcy, to organise a virtual discussion and Instagram takeover. They discussed the importance of asking for help when you need it, the negative impact of social media, and which women they look up to as role models. You can read Aoife’s essay about IDG and the importance of the Freedom Online campaign here.
This year, our Girls Takeovers extended to social media accounts! Her.ie shared content and stories on International Day of the Girl from Jessica, and called on readers and followers to sign the global open letter to social media companies calling for action. Chupi also gave us space on her Instagram page where she posted a series of stories from YAP member Aoife talking about the Free To Be Online report, the Irish survey findings and the importance of International Day of the Girl. Sarah Collins featured on The Body Shop’s Facebook stories too, on the day itself. We’d like to extend a BIG thank you to everyone who shared their platform to amplify the call for gender equality for International Day of the Girl 2020.