What I learned from the Girl up Leadership Summit 2020

Photo Courtesy of @girlupcampaign Instagram

This week I was excited to virtually attend the Girl up Leadership summit 2020! This three day event was a chance to to hear from girls and women of all ages and in all stages of life, discussing gender equality and leadership. 

Girl Up is an organisation that I have only recently heard of when I noticed discussions about the summit online. Their aim is to guide and champion girls along their journey from leader to changemaker.

“Before we can achieve gender equality, we have to learn the issues and how they intersect”- Girl up

Girl up know that gender equality is an issue that cannot be resolved simply or without looking at all issues.This includes tackling Gender violence, Education, Sports and STEM skills. Girl up also teach vital skills and leadership tools including ‘organising, goal setting, and effective communication’.



Unfortunately I was not able to take in a lot of the events on the first day as I was balancing work and watching along when possible. But the line up of speakers and discussion for day one was very impressive. This included Former first lady Michelle Obama and Dr. Tererai Trent. The day was filled with discussions and panels that also included Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, Maya Enista Smith, Jameela Jamil and many more. These panels explored discussions regarding climate change, Mental health and being an ally.

For day two I was able to take in a lot more of the messages and talks. I found each and every message informative and inspiring. Especially imagining all the wonderful young women hearing these words too. Priyanka Chopra Jonas was motivating in telling us that we can take action from any age. Emphasising that the work we do now will continue to pave the way for others and carry the torch for the future girls. I was also very inspired  by a girl up leader named Khushi. She used a beautiful example to show what makes a leader. This included Passion, Knowledge, Reaching out to others and putting this all into action. Khushi also made the point that being a leader has nothing to do with gender, a leader is human, and anyone can be a leader.

“Humans are leaders and Leaders are human”- Khushi

Photo Courtesy of @girlupcampaign Instagram

There was an inspiring message of support from Hilary Clinton advising that we still have a long way to go but we will leave our mark on the world if we work together. I found the ‘I’m Not Bossy, I’m The Boss’ discussion very interesting also. This included panelists; Céline Talabaza, CEO of Noble Panacea, Claudia Chan, Creator of S.H.E. Summit, Michelle King, Author of The Fix: Overcome the Invisible Barriers That Are Holding Women Back At Work, Miki Woodard, Head of Good Robot, Bad Robot Productions and moderator Shania, Girl Up Club Leader.

The women were of course incredibly insightful in this discussion and made several statements and points that really resonated with me. Michelle King rightly pointed out that the work place was never designed for women. It was previously more of a Don Draper style work place that catered to men. I also really related to Claudia Chan when she said that one of the greatest barriers we face is our own mind. We need to stop comparing and stop thinking in the imposter syndrome way we do. Our thoughts will determine who we become.

The panel made great points throughout such as how the world has a very masculine view of leadership and we need to change this. We need to find what leadership looks like to us and follow those examples such as Jacinda Arden. The perfect advice came when asked how to get started in leadership in which we were told “Start before you’re ready'” I love this advise. Too often we all make plans and say when I’ve perfected the skill, or when I’ve researched extensively I’ll get going, but instead we should start whilst motivated and driven and learn along the way.

Another important point for those that want to be leaders is to hire people smarter than us and who know things you don’t. Understand where your strengths are and where they aren’t, this will build a great team. 

Kathryn Karol from the Caterpillar foundation was able to talk about how their products build a vital infrastructure to help communities. They invest in critical skills and STEM education. Caterpillar believe if they provide people with the skills they need, they will thrive. Kathryn also asked ‘What can you take away from this experience and use in the future and in your career?”  I think this is an important question to all ages. What can take from the experience of the summit and particularly this year during covid and how can we learn from it. 

Photo Courtesy of @girlupcampaign Instagram

The Duchess of Sussex – Meghan Markle 

Of course I was very excited to see Meghan Markle was included in the summit and I was looking forward to her speech as Meghan has been always been someone who greatly inspires me. I found Meghan’s words to be comforting, informative and of course inspiring. Meghan highlighted just how powerful each and everyone of our voices are, but especially the younger generation. It was very easy to label teenagers and young adults as the selfish generation at one point, and whilst there is a somewhat  easy to say when you look at the ‘seflie obsessed and social media addicts’ we appear to be, there is also a great strength in social media when used for good. This is also the generation that have been vital in the Women’s march, the recent and ongoing black lives matter movement and for the protests against climate change, lest we forget Greta Thunberg is still only 17 years old.

“You are standing up and demanding to be heard, yes, but you’re also demanding to own the conversation”- Meghan markle

Meghan referenced other inspiring women such as Maya Moore, who we can look at as an example to encourage each of us to use our own voices too. Meghan also reiterated that whilst hopes and beliefs are a great place to start, we need to use action each and every day to see real change.

It was a beautiful speech to finish the day off on a very motivating note for all participants. Following Meghan was a beautiful performance sang by Agnes Nunes. Overall, I loved this event and feel so wonderfully inspired, not only for myself but for so many girls and women around the world that took part.

If you want to see more about Girl Up then visit their site here.






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