Tunisian and American activists to end violence against women joined 20 youth leaders from the Middle East and North Africa in a webcast discussion from the U.S. Institute of Peace on Oct. 11 focusing on the role girls play in building peace. The event took place on the International Day of the Girl Child and was part of USIP’s 60 days of activities connecting issues of youth, peace and gender equality. 

Syrian refugee school
Photo Courtesy of Gaby Gerecht

The predominant narrative about youth asserts that young men are perpetrators of violence and young women are victims. In reality, both girls and boys, women and men are powerful agents of change and can work together to foster inclusive societies that manage conflict nonviolently. 

The United Nations General Assembly in 2011 declared Oct. 11 the International Day of the Girl Child to recognize their rights and the obstacles they face. The day concludes two months of special activities USIP has undertaken that began with International Youth Day on Aug. 12 and included the International Day of Peace on Sept. 21.

Girls have demonstrated the capacity to be strong partners for peace and security. From standing up to the Taliban in the fight for girls' education, as did Malala Yousafzai of Pakistan, to participating in collective action for democracy during the Arab Spring, girls and young women are shaping the course of peace and security. 

In this webcast, Henda Maarfi gave a firsthand account of launching the "Stop the Violence" campaign in partnership with Girl Scouts Tunisia. Jin In, the founder of New York-based nonprofit 4Girls GLocal Leadership (4GGL), explained why it is critical to engage girls and how her organization works to support the next generation of girl leaders. The discussion explored how peacebuilding policies and programs can and should emphasize the role of girls and young women in creating more peaceful societies. 

The online audience was encouraged to participate and ask questions via Twitter, using the hashtag #YouthPeaceEquality. 

Panelists

Jin In
Founder, 4Girls GLocal Leadership (4GGL)

Henda Maarfi
Girls Scout Troop Leader, Tunisia; Fellow, U.S. State Department Leaders for Democracy Program  

Ambassador Steve Steiner
Gender Advisor, U.S. Institute of Peace

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