Dawn joined the Southbank Centre and WOW, the global gender equality movement and festival, to celebrate the UN International Day of the Girl atop the Coca-Cola London Eye last Thursday.
150 girls aged between 11-18 from 25 schools across London and beyond were paired with 150 successful women mentors from across a range of professions and industries including film, media, engineering, sport, politics, transport, fashion and campaigning for 15-minute mentoring sessions celebrating the power and potential of girls.
Other mentors included: campaigner Baroness Doreen Lawrence, former Prime Minister of Australia Julia Gillard, actor Gillian Anderson, Co-Founder of the Women’s Equality Party Catherine Mayer, MPs Justine Greening, Chi Onwurah, Jess Phillips and Jo Swinson, TV Presenter Dr Zoe Williams, gal-dem Editor-in-Chief Liv Little and writer Kathy Lette.
Each girl was matched at random with three different mentors and had three 15-minute sessions during two complete rotations of the London Eye, discussing the joys and challenges of being a girl. Celebrations at Southbank Centre’s Royal Festival Hall continued Thursday 11 October, with a day of activities. These included workshops, talks and performances from female artists and professionals, all on the theme of championing amazing girls and women who have made changes in their communities and beyond, and inspired others to do the same.
Dawn Butler, MP for Brent Central, said
“I had a wonderful time marking the International Day of the Girl, and it was so inspiring to be able to mentor the women of the future and hear their goals and ambitions. My message to these girls is that they can achieve anything they put their minds to. I will also continue to push for change in society so that all women, no matter their backgrounds, are able to fulfil their potential. We have to remove the structural barriers and speak up more about the value of women, which is why this event was so important. I look forward to seeing more women, including those I mentored here, in positions of power in the future.As a result of meeting these amazing young women, I have invited Angel Otobo to Parliament to recite one of her short stories for Labour’s Black History Month reception.”
Elaine Bedell, Chief Executive, Southbank Centre said
“We are delighted to be able to host such a stellar line-up of inspirational women at our seventh speed mentoring event celebrating International Day of the Girl. This annual gathering is a key part of Southbank Centre’s programme and we are proud to be able to play a small role in shaping these girls’ futures by introducing them to so many brilliant women who have made a real difference in the industries they operate in.”
Jude Kelly, Founder, WOW – Women of the World Festivals said
“I set up WOW in 2010 to create a movement for transformation around gender equality. With Southbank Centre, WOW established our first girls-only Speed Mentoring event on International Day of the Girl in 2012, giving hundreds of girls a voice and an opportunity to meet inspiring and powerful women whilst sailing above the city on The London Eye. Six years later it’s a testimony to these young women that the event is so successful, and that so many people are keen to take part and to support girls realise their potential”.
The United Nations declared October 11 as the International Day of the Girl in 2012, marking a moment to celebrate girls’ potential and their achievements, and acknowledging the challenges millions face around the world.