Girl Up Live from London Connects Business Leaders and Youth on Behalf of Adolescent Girls Worldwide

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Sponsored by State Street and Lifeway Foods, the event supports Girl Up and the United Nations Refugee Agency

Today, Girl Up Live from London brought together 200 of United Kingdom’s leading ladies, men, and youth. The Girl Up campaign’s first major event in London garnered support for Somali refugee girls living in Ethiopia, and the work of Girl Up and the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR). Together, Girl Up and changemakers in London are channeling their energy into developing global citizens and leaders.

“Refugee adolescent girls are among the most marginalized girls in the world, and I’ve seen firsthand the lifesaving work that the United Nations Refugee Agency is doing to serve this population,” said Melissa Hillebrenner, director of Girl Up. “Young people in London want to make a difference for girls their age in developing countries who are facing numerous challenges. These youth can have a direct effect in supporting the worvk of the United Nations and Girl Up is a platform that helps them do that.”

Adolescent girls often lack access to education and face health risks including high rates of maternal death and HIV infection. In rural areas of Ethiopia girls spend hours fetching water each day as well as completing other household tasks, leaving little to no time for school. Less than 50 percent of Somali refugee girls in Ethiopia are enrolled in primary school, and only 15 percent are enrolled in secondary school.

“Fleeing conflicts and persecution refugee women and girls have survived the worst – violence, rape, torture, abuses, loss of dear ones. Vulnerable and surrounded by risks and uncertainty, they have a great wish to reclaim their lives and future. By ensuring their education and creating opportunities for them, we help them to stand again in dignity and restore their hopes,” said Roland Schilling, UNHCR Representative to the United Kingdom. “The UN Foundation’s Girl Up campaign is an important part of these efforts and we are grateful for their steadfast support.”

In March, Girl Up Champion and actress Monqiue Coleman, former Girl Up Teen Advisor Rocio Ortega, and Vice President of Global Inclusion at State Street Pauline Miller traveled with Girl Up to Ethiopia to learn from UNHCR and gain a better understanding of the situation facing adolescent girls, particularly those living in refugee camps. During the trip they visited several programs that increase girls’ access to education, provide safe spaces, and create leadership opportunities.

Girl Up Live from London was sponsored by State Street and Lifeway Foods, and Transformational Media Initiative was the media partner. There were several prominent speakers at the event, including Coleman and Miller. In addition, Ziauddin Yousafzai, UN Special Advisor on Global Education and father of Malala Yousafzai, spoke with Girl Up Teen Advisor Annie Gersh and was honored for his commitment to education for all children. Through interactive booths and a photography exhibit guests learned why investing in adolescent girls is the smartest way to improve the world’s future.

Click here for photos from Girl Up Live from London and of UNHCR programs in Ethiopia serving adolescent girls.


About Girl Up
Girl Up, a campaign of the United Nations Foundation, gives American girls ages 13-18 the opportunity to channel their energy and compassion to raise awareness and funds for programs of the United Nations that help some of the world’s hardest-to-reach adolescent girls. Through Girl Up’s support, girls have the opportunity to become educated, healthy, safe, counted and positioned to be the next generation of leaders. Go to to learn more.

About the United Nations Foundation
The United Nations Foundation builds public-private partnerships to address the world’s most pressing problems, and broadens support for the United Nations through advocacy and public outreach. Through innovative campaigns and initiatives, the Foundation connects people, ideas, and resources to help the UN solve global problems. The Foundation was created in 1998 as a U.S. public charity by entrepreneur and philanthropist Ted Turner and now is supported by global corporations, foundations, governments, and individuals. For more information, visit

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Andrea Austin
Girl Up, United Nations Foundation
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