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Day of the Girl: Messages from the Community

Girl Going to School in Paraguay
Manoucheka Attime |

Women and girls make up 50% of the global population, yet remain underrepresented in both positions of power and the policies that impact them everyday. Open government reformers play a critical role in creating and updating policies to address these unseen needs, and challenging unequal power structures that have the ability to dramatically improve the outcomes for women and girls. Our Break the Roles campaign asks OGP members to take concrete steps towards opening government to include more women in meaningful ways to help shape policies. OGP countries have started incorporating a gender lens to their action plans and expanding stakeholders in the co-creation process to ensure better outcomes for everyone.

However, this work requires the participation of motivated reformers of all ages – and girls must be at the table if we are to collectively succeed.  Girls know what health and employment services need improvement, what school systems can do better to help them learn, how the justice system can support them when they need legal aid but don’t know where to turn, or how to mobilize a local – or global – community as we’ve seen lately in the advocacy for climate justice.

This International Day of the Girl Child, OGP reached out to some of our open government and inclusion champions and asked them to share their recommendations for the next generation of open government leaders. They responded with inspirational and actionable advice to young women and governments on how to affect change through open governance, accountability, and transparency. With girls’ voices guiding us, we can continue to Break the Roles for the next generation of leaders.

Leaders at Women Economic and Leadership Transformation Initiative (WELTI) speaking to youth on International Women’s Day. Photo courtesy of WELTI

Advice From Open Government Champions

“Be more confident. Young men believe that they can do anything. Young women question, “Am I good enough?” So be confident.”
– Mary Robinson, Chair of the Elders and Former President of Ireland, OGP Break the Roles interview May 2019

“Find communities of support and use them to carve your own path. We all have the ability to hold power to account but need that network of support, a purpose and grit. This is why Open Heroines is a game changer.”
– Hera Hussain, Senior Advocacy Manager, Open Contracting Partnership, Founder of Chayn, and an Open Heroine

“Keep on! I’ve already met you, many times over, in the months that we worked with women’s rights organisations for our Feminist Open Government action research in the Philippines. You were the Muslim girl from war-torn Marawi who told me open government was an opportunity for your voice to be heard. You were the LGBT advocate from urban Manila who pressed for genuine inclusion in development programs. And you were the young bureaucrat who sincerely believed in what OGP can do. It was my honor to have witnessed your fire and steady desire to take your place in this space. Thank you for your incredible work.”
– Kara Medina, Project Officer, CARE International – Philippines

“I think what we do in OGP is fundamental: we work to put the citizens at the heart of public policy to co-create it. Girls and young women: what we have to say matters, and a lot.”
– María Baron, Executive Director, Directorio Legislativo and Incoming OGP Steering Committee Co-Chair

Girls studying at a boarding school in Mongolia. Photo taken for CitizENGAGE, OGP’s storytelling platform

“If you decide to be the woman, especially for women of color, to talk about inclusivity, prepare to face pushback. You’ll be written off as the loudmouth, the troublemaker, you’ll sound like a broken record. Keep talking about it anyway. Whether they realize it or not, they need to hear it.”
– Becca Warner, Communications Officer, Sunlight Foundation and an Open Heroine

“Don’t stop advocating, even if you are not getting immediate benefits, you will be rewarded someday. We, as advocates, should join hands to see that the voices of all girls are being heard.”
– Purity, Save the Children Girl Champion in Nigeria

“With the global population comprising over 50% of women and girls, the majority of whom are mostly affected by the effects of poverty and inequality;  redressing policies and laws which are discriminatory, gender-biased, and lack inclusivity, should be a key priority for governments and policy makers.”
– Barbara Kalima-Phiri, Senior Gender Adviser, World Vision International

“’We never realize how high we are till we are called to rise,’ said the poet Emily Dickinson. And rising up is building equality with every little action, every day. You have a place, participate; you have a voice, suggest/propose. Each one of our ideas push us to make things happen.
– Virginia Pardo, Director of the Digital Citizens Area, Development of Electronic Government and Information Society and Knowledge Agency for the Government of Uruguay

The WanaData Abuja community.
Wanadata is Africa’s first Peer Network for Women Data Journalists, Designer & Data Scientists, with chapters in 5 countries: Kenya, Nigeria, South Africa, Tanzania, Senegal and Uganda, working on changing the digital media landscape by producing and promoting data-driven news and applying digital technologies in their storytelling.
Photo courtesy of Code for Africa

“In a time where women are finding their voices and speaking up for each other and for equal rights, more than ever, data needs to be open to support our campaigns and storytelling for equality and equity, and tear down gender biases and misrepresentation of women. An open future is the legacy we can give to every young girl so that they will not have to fight the battles we have already fought but thrive in a world that is free of gender biases and prejudice and where women always have a seat at the table. As a matter of fact, a world where women create THE table.”
– Andie Okon, Project Manager, Code for Africa and an Open Heroine

“It is your right as young women to demand that governments take gender into consideration in national policy-making. Good governance also means gender-inclusive governance.”
– Shyamala Gomez, Centre for Equality and Justice, Sri Lanka

“Young women can benefit from OGP that thrives especially with regards to SDG5 and SDG17 (gender equality and partnership). In my country Nigeria, many young women lack access to technology and education both of which are paramount for their sustainable economic development. Through the UN’s global partnerships, we have an opportunity to help girls achieve gender equality worldwide.
– Ifeoma Okonji, Executive Director, Women Economic and Leadership Transformation Initiative (WELTI) and an Open Heroine

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