Today, October 11, is International Day of the Girl Child. It promotes girls’ rights and highlights gender inequalities that remain between girls and boys. To mark it, we are highlighting the work of our partner Girl Be Heard.
What does Girl Be Heard do?
Margaret Mead once said “never doubt that a small group of thoughtful committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has”. In 2008, as 12 young women and their mentors created a play for the Estrogenius Theatre Festival, they probably would never have imagined the impact they would be having just eight years later. But they would be proud of what they started.
Girl Be Heard (GBH) is not your average theatre company. It is a burgeoning youth-led feminist movement empowering their over 150 members to tell their stories. GBH theatre is the reality, not the fiction, of girls. Through theatre, education and storytelling, girls are given a space to speak honestly, develop community, hone artistic and leadership skills and become activists. GBH is “a movement like nothing else I’ve ever experienced” said Deanna Alexandra Ibrahim, GBH member since 2009. “Girl Be Heard has changed my life forever,” added Noelia Mann, member since 2012, “I’ve finally found a home for my inner artist and activist.”
Theatrical performances are a key element of GBH’s philosophy. GBH participants perform their own original work covering issues they care most about – from sex trafficking to gun violence, homelessness to rape, bullying to body image. “GBH is about giving girls voices. I want people, especially little girls, to hear our words and find the courage to make themselves heard. There is no reason for anyone to silence you,” said Destini Henry, GBH member since 2014. GBH has performed at the White House, TED conferences, the United Nations and at schools, universities, detention centres, refugee camps and corporate events, among others.
GBH also runs a variety of girl-empowered education programmes such as afterschool programmes throughout New York City for at-risk communities, interactive workshop sessions and cross-cultural exchange partnerships, including experiences such as sightseeing and local cuisine tastings. GBH is now building a girl movement around the world engaging local communities in other countries, centering girls as leaders in these communities to make change.
Girl Be Heard has been an Oak grantee since 2015. To find out more about its amazing work and history visit its website or check out its YouTube channel for lots of interesting videos showing the girls in action.
“If a girl can change her own life, she can change the lives of girls everywhere”
– Girl Be Heard philosophy.