#GirlsTakeover: Áras an Uachtaráin hands over reins for Day of the Girl

Girl takeovers also planned at Gate Theatre as UN urges empowerment for young women

#GirlsTakeover: Plan International Ireland volunteers will be at Áras an Uachtaráin today. Photograph: Frank Miller

#GirlsTakeover: Plan International Ireland volunteers will be at Áras an Uachtaráin today. Photograph: Frank Miller

 

Today is Day of the Girl – and it’s nothing to do with Father Ted’s lovely girls, or with calling grown women by diminutives. Let us hear none of the good-girl-yourself, fine-girl-ye-are twaddle today. No, this day, the United Nations says, is for celebration, empowerment and awareness of the challenges facing girls today.

And, to mark it, girls are staging takeovers all over the world. There may be five candidates clambering to take over from Michael D Higgins, but in the meantime the office of the president is actually being taken over, by girls, today.

How suitable, too, that the Gate Theatre, where some working women felt harassed in the past, is also going to have a girl takeover, surely reinforcing that the Dublin theatrical institution has entered a new era. The third takeover is at DMG Media Ireland, publisher of the Irish Daily Mail, whose chief executive, Paul Henderson, is interested in development issues.

The Irish takeovers are among more than 1,000 #GirlsTakeover events in 70 countries today, including at Google, Facebook, Viacom and L’Oréal

The girl takeovers are part of Plan International Ireland’s marking of International Day of the Girl, which began in 2012. The child-centred development organisation, part of a global federation, fights for the rights of children in the poorest regions of the world. Its Because I Am a Girl movement works to eradicate female genital mutilation, end child marriage, provide access to education and ensure equal rights for girls.

Today’s Irish takeovers involve gangs of girls drawn from the charity’s 16- to 22-year-old volunteers and led by three students, Niamh Dunne of Dublin City University, Anna Golden of NUI Galway, and Grace McNally, who is at secondary school in Co Meath. They’ll meet leaders in positions of power to engage on key issues. Because the voice of women is rarely heard in policy planning, the takeovers are to campaign for women to have proper access to leadership and decisionmaking.

#GirlsTakeover: events around the world have included Glamour magazine’s Girl Project, in New York in 2017. Photograph: Craig Barritt/Getty
#GirlsTakeover: events around the world have included Glamour magazine’s Girl Project, in New York in 2017. Photograph: Craig Barritt/Getty
#GirlsTakeover: last year Plan International Ireland volunteers were at eBay
#GirlsTakeover: last year Plan International Ireland volunteers were at eBay

The Irish takeovers are among more than 1,000 #GirlsTakeover events in 70 countries today, organised by Plan International offices. The youth-led campaign includes engaging with school teachers, village chiefs, the vice-president of Uganda, senior executives of global corporations such as Google, Facebook, Viacom and L’Oréal, the chief executive of Ethiopian Airlines and Finland’s minister of foreign trade. In Vietnam, young people will take over the national assembly to advocate for change. The young influencers and activists who created the campaign announced it at the Global Girls’ Summit in Brussels to an audience including the queen of Belgium.

On Friday Plan International Ireland will publish its Safety in Ireland survey, which finds that a third of women have been subjected to physical harassment in public. It also finds that nine out of 10 women feel unsafe in Ireland because of their gender and that almost six in 10 women often or sometimes feel unsafe taking the bus.

The survey follows Plan International’s pioneering Girls’ Safety in Cities Across the World report, which found that 69 per cent of Dublin-based experts said sexual harassment is a regular occurrence in the city’s public spaces. Both surveys are published to mark International Day of the Girl.

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