by Carol Lopes ’15
Day 2 in Washington DC started early at 8:00 a.m. with an interview for NPR. The reporter met with me (I’m from Brazil) and two other international girls from Belize and China. Three American girls with international descendants were also interviewed–an American with Cambodian parents, one with Indian parents, and one with Italian parents. I definitely learned how hard it is to be famous because it was so hard to feel comfortable talking about delicate subjects with cameras flashing everywhere! The interview was discussion based and the reporter asked me questions about why I was interested in Girl Up, the challenges women face in Brazil, the stereotypes present and how I learned to overcome them. The interview lasted an hour and it was really interesting to hear how we are so different from each other but so alike at the same time.
After the interview the workshops started. Today we got put at tables representing the states we came from. Since there wasn’t a table representing Pennsylvania, I sat at the New Jersey table since that is as close to George School as I could get. The first workshop was about being a Girl Up leader. We discussed how to start a club, the goals you should have and the expectations you have to meet. After that, we stopped for a delicious lunch break and started an hour later with a “UN and You” workshop. We discussed current issues in the world and did activities Model UN style in which each girl represented a country and came up with solutions for environmental problems.
The next few workshops were all aimed towards preparing us for our trip to Capitol Hill the next morning. We reunited with our state groups and learned the necessary vocabulary to use and discussed the point we wanted to get across. My group learned that we would have six meetings with both Senate and House of Representatives members who speak for New Jersey. Our goal was to convince them to sign the Bill that would come out the next week for the “Girls Count Act.”
The Girls Count Act asks the United States to serve as an example for developing countries that don’t have mandatory registration for girls at birth. When girls aren’t registered at birth they don’t have a birth certificate which makes them invisible in the eyes of their government. When they become invisible it is easier for them to be forced into child marriage and human trafficking because it is likely that they won’t be found ever again. If a girl makes it to adulthood, she is not able to seek an education or work because she doesn’t have a birth certificate. In America, we have advanced technology that makes it mandatory for all children to be registered at birth. The Bill asks the United States to share this technology with other developing countries to help establish systems for registering girls at birth. Our group divided the information we would have to present and rehearsed it a few times. When the day was over I could not wait for the next morning to see 157 girls storming into Capitol Hill.