In honor of International Day of the Girl, HP and Girl Rising, a nonprofit dedicated to eradicating poverty by providing education to girls, are celebrating 12 stories of female empowerment gathered from around the globe as part of the first ever Girl Rising Creative Challenge. The brand is also working with The Clooney Foundation for Justice, Unicef and Google.org are partnering to improve the lives of thousands of students.
Introduced on International Women’s Day in March, the challenge was a call-to-action to highlight storytelling that has the power to change the world. More than 880 stories were submitted from people in 110 countries who entered essays, videos, art and more about how they, or people in their communities, are working to make the world a better place for girls.
“HP and Girl Rising both believe in the power of stories to change mindsets and spark meaningful action,” said Christina Lowery, chief executive officer, Girl Rising. “During this Challenge, it has been incredibly inspiring to learn how all kinds of people – girls, boys, mothers, fathers, and teachers – are working every day to change the lives of girls and bring about a more gender-equitable world. It is my sincere hope that sharing their stories will inspire others to find ways they can make a difference in their own communities.”
Entries covered issues impacting girls and women globally, including access to education in conflict settings, combating gender-based violence, empowering girls through sports, and sexual and reproductive health.
The volume of story entries were culled to 40 finalists, of which a panel of judges chose the 12 winners. Among the judges: David Oyelowo, actor; Landry Bender, actor; Isha Sesay, journalist and activist; Sejal Kumar, YouTube influencer; Kat Gordon, founder, The 3% Conference; Shelley Zalis, chief executive, The Female Quotient; Andrew Robertson, president & chief executive, BBDO; and Madonna Badger, co-founder & chief creative officer, Badger & Winters.
“Gender-based discrimination keeps millions of girls and women from reaching their full potential. Today we honor these stories by spotlighting and sharing them,” said Karen Kahn, chief communications officer, HP. “We were humbled by the volume and breadth of responses and are truly inspired by the entrants from across the globe who are using the power of storytelling to help change their world.”
The winners of the HP/Girl Rising Creative Challenge range from educational programs in Sudan to Free Women Writers in Afghanistan, All Girls Code in Lebanon, Brown Girls Do Ballet in the US and Turning Periods Into Pathways in Nepal. The full list was announced in a Girls Rising video (see below).
See the full list of winners and the films on the Girl Rising website.
Shining a spotlight on education
In addition to the Girl Rising Creative Challenge, HP is helping to acknowledge the International Day of the Girl through a new film titled 'A Generation, Found.' The film, narrated by George Clooney, tells the story of two young Syrian girls living in refugee settlements in Lebanon who regain access to education following years of uncertainty. It is the result of a partnership between HP, the Clooney Foundation for Justice (CFJ), Unicef and Google.org focused on improving educational opportunities for underserved communities.
More than 65 million people around the world have been forcibly displaced, a record high since World War II, according to the UN Refugee Agency. Five million of those have been displaced from Syria since 2011, and more than a million are now living in Lebanon. Only a small number of refugees – less than one percent of 17.5 million in 2016 – will ever be resettled.
The film highlights Marah and Rawaa. Four years ago, as a 12-year-old fourth grader, Marah and her family were uprooted by the violence in Syria. Rawaa, a 12-year-old second grader, was living with her family in the countryside near the southern Syrian city of Aleppo when the fighting broke out and forced their displacement. With an average of 17 years before most refugees are repatriated to their country, Marah and Rawaa were at risk of becoming part of the “lost generation” of Syrian refugees who might grow up without the basic human right of education.
But now, as the film reveals, thousands of young Syrians living in Lebanon are getting back to school. Education plays a critically important role in creating opportunities and enabling a more just, equitable and inclusive society. HP and its partners are supporting the broader goal to enable better learning outcomes for 100 million people by 2025.
Through this unique partnership, new technology is being used in nine public schools across Lebanon, from Beruit to the Beqaa Valley, and will reach nearly 3,500 Syrian refugee students, as well as thousands of Lebanese students and teachers as the program is now deployed for its first full school year. The nine schools often serve Lebanese learners in the morning, and then operate a “second shift” to serve Syrian students.
HP is also providing teacher training, curriculum planning support and – a first for these students – laptops, which will be used daily in every classroom. By equipping classrooms with the latest educational technology and giving teachers the proper training and tools, HP and its partners are providing new ways of learning for not just the students who attend second shifts in the afternoon but for all of the students in each of the nine schools.
This is one of the many ways that HP is continuing its push to create a sustainable impact around the globe and seeks to change perceptions.