As part of Day of the Girl 2020, women and girls across the world – from Tanzania, Rwanda, Ethiopia, Mexico to India – participated in #TheGirlEffect – sharing inspiring stories about the choices they make that challenge society’s expectations of them.

Girl Effect launched the campaign to encourage girls to think about what society, family, bosses told them they were supposed to do, and what they chose to do instead. Why share their story? Girl Effect’s work is anchored in the belief that when a girl is given the skills, confidence and tools to unlock her potential, she inspires others to do so too. She starts a ripple effect that impacts her family, her community, and her country.

#TheGirlEffect was first started in Ethiopia and Rwanda and has seen girls and women across the world sharing the choices they made that defined their paths in life. From escaping forced marriage, and choosing to have children later in life, to forging a career less perceived as suitable for women, #TheGirlEffect is filled with the inspiring choices girls have made that have set the course of their lives.

Inspired by the campaign, influential women such as Salma HayekMaria SharapovaBianca LawsonJessica BielandDemi Mooreshared #TheGirlEffect message to ensure these stories reach audiences all around the world. At the same time, sharing their own personal examples of surpassing society’s expectations of them.

Tackling the barriers faced by girls – when it comes to their health, bodies, education and futures – has become increasingly urgent. The impact of Covid-19 risks disproportionately impacting girls and young women and threatens to undo a generation of progress towards gender equality. Up to 47 million girls and women could lose access to contraceptives because of the pandemic (UNFPA) and around 20 million secondary school girls have been forced out of the classroom (Malala Fund), leaving them at greater risk of never returning to education, early marriage, pregnancy, malnutrition, and violence.

CEO of Girl Effect, Jessica Posner Odede, said: “The world wasn’t working for girls before 2020, and it definitely isn’t working for them now. So as the world turns its attention to ‘building back equal’, supporting girls matters more than ever before. And the benefits are exponential; arm girls with facts about their health – from vaccines to contraception – and watch girls make healthy choices for their bodies. Give every girl an education and watch her country’s wealth increase. Encourage girls to earn a living and watch them invest it back into their families. #TheGirlEffect campaign is a timely reminder of the potential of girls and women who everyday challenge the limitations placed upon them. A girl should know her place, and it’s anywhere she wants.”

Girl Effect is an international non-profit that builds media that girls want, trust and need – from chatbots to chatshows and TV dramas to tech. Reaching more than 20 million girls, we’re experts in content that helps girls make choices and changes in their lives during the critical years of adolescence.

In India and South Africa, for example, girls have sent almost 1.2 million messages on Girl Effect’s chatbots asking questions about sex and relationships. And in Malawi, readers of our magazine are 32% more likely to have had the first dose of the HPV vaccine than non-readers.

By igniting their confidence to act differently at a time that can define their future, every girl can choose to be in control of her body, her health, her learning and livelihood.