Celebrating a #GirlHero

October 11, 2015, will be the International Day of the Girl. This year’s theme is The Power of the Adolescent Girl: Vision for 2030.

To celebrate, Girl Up suggested we share a picture of an inspirational #GirlHero.

Here is mine:


This is Paloma Rambana, age 10. At the 2015 Dining in the Dark event, Paloma was the recipient of the Paula Bailey Inspirational Community Member Award. Among other reasons, Paloma was nominated for this award due to her work to “fund the gap,” to secure funding for children who previously fell into a “gap” — a lack of funding for mobility training and equipment for visually impaired children between the ages of 6 and 13.

Watching Paloma receive the Paula Bailey award was especially poignant for me. In 2007, I nominated my late mother-in-law, Barb Kiger, for the award. The evening itself was crazy. I had to catch a flight to Washington, D.C., at around 8 p.m., so I had to leave the Dining in the Dark event early. I had made arrangements for my husband and children to be there, both to see Barb receive the award and to drive her home afterwards. That year, the nominees did not know who was going to receive the award, but due to the nutty logistics of me having to leave to catch a flight, I had been tipped off that Barb “might” want to have family members present (phew!). Although Barb and I were extremely close, I am not sure she ever quite forgave me for not inviting my father-in-law, an act which simply wasn’t on my radar screen, what with trying to keep the big secret that she WAS THE WINNER!

My husband and son as Barb is escorted to accept her award.

My husband and son as Barb is escorted to accept her award.

Barb would have loved watching Paloma receive the Paula Bailey award. The two of them may have been on opposite ends of the age spectrum, but they share so many characteristics: tenacity, resourcefulness, and a sense that they must use their many capabilities to help others. When Paloma got up to give her acceptance speech, I expected a general “thank you” and “isn’t this lovely?”. What I heard instead was heaps of credit given to her teacher, Jennifer. I was moved by her selflessness and grace.

Lastly, to steal a quote I used in another blog post tonight for a different purpose, Paloma has done what 11-year-old philanthropist Vivienne Harr has chosen for her approach:

I didn’t think of all reasons why I couldn’t; I thought of all the reasons why I must.


This is why Paloma is my #GirlHero.

Who is yours?


Here are some resources for more information on The Day of the Girl:


A TWEET:  Girls are powerful, and they deserve to be recognized. Share your #GIRLHERO with @GirlUp for #DayoftheGirl:GirlUp.org/GIRLHERO

THE PLEDGE: Take the @GirlUp #GIRLHERO pledge:http://bit.ly/1VECCYh

SUPERHERO YOURSELF: Add a @GirlUp #GIRLHERO filter to your profile pic:GirlUp.org/GIRLHERO


International Day of the Girl 2012

International Day of the Girl | CARE

I have a minor obsession with all things wedding. Although I am never happy to find myself up at 2 a.m. on a Sunday prior to work, I am usually secretly happy to binge on back to back episodes of My Fair Wedding, a show about a wedding planner who takes over the planning for ceremonies that are suffering from a lack of funds, absence of taste, and/or cooperative family members and turns them into “dream weddings.” This fixation may go back to the time when I ended up abandoning the years and years worth of bridal magazines that had stacked up in my belongings and chose to have a small (but lovely) wedding on the Brooklyn Promenade in New York City, wearing a dress I had bought from Casual Corner instead of a fancy bridal store.

Even though some of the trappings of my wedding were not precisely what I had dreamed about, the important thing is that I was 27 years old, had had an opportunity to spend almost three years living in New York City, had the economic means to support myself if I needed to, had access to an array of options for family planning, and was marrying my best friend, someone who respected me and loved me.

For approximately 10 million girls under the age of 18 every year, their marriages do not take place by choice. According to CARE, in many countries around the world, girls are socialized to be wives and mothers. Their education isn’t prioritized and they aren’t allowed to express their opinions in public places, or even leave their homes without permission. Often, these girls are married by the time they are 12 or 14, and are expected to start having children at the age of 16.  

This October 11, on the International Day of the Girl, I am joining other bloggers to share information about child marriage and encourage my readers to learn about this epidemic and take action.

The facts about this epidemic should stop every one of us in our tracks. To identify a few:

  • One in seven girls is married before her 15th birthday and some child brides are as young as eight or nine
  • Girls younger than 15 are five times more likely to die in childbirth than those in their twenties
  • Child brides are twice as likely to be beaten by their husbands
If you don’t have time to read this whole blog, I would ask you to stop now and do one thing: Email Secretary of State Hilary Clinton and ask her to help end child marriage through increased political and financial investments in girls. The CARE Action Network has supported legislation that addresses child marriage in the current and former Congress and now the Administration is poised to take action to address this issue. I just added my name to the petition, and I promise you it took less than a minute. Click here for the link.

If you do have time for more, I would like to share this image of Tume:

Photo Credit: 2010 Justine Bettinger/CARE

(Photo Credit: 2010 Justine Bettinger/CARE)

According to CARE, Tume Mida was just 10 years old when she was forced to marry a 22-year-old man in the region of Borena in Ethiopia. Child marriage at such a young age in rural Ethiopia is not unusual.

Tume is in charge of all household chores including cooking and cleaning for her husband. Because of these responsibilities, she is unable to go to school, almost guaranteeing her and her future children a lifetime of poverty.

No girl, in any corner of the world, should be deprived of the ability to freely and fully consent to marry. Anything less is a clear violation of human rights.

There are simple things we can all do to help this situation:

  • Figure out what you know (and don’t!) by taking this quiz on child marriage. Share your score on Facebook and Twitter and ask others to do the same.
  • Add the “End Child Marriage” social badge to your Twitter and/or Facebook profile photos. You can do that by clicking here.
  • Tweet about child marriage using the hashtags #unite4girls and #endchildmarriage and ask your followers to do the same. Here’s a sample tweet:
 I’m joining @CARE in the global movement to #endchildmarriage. Here’s
how you can get involved: http://bit.ly/THiQu7 
Let’s help preserve childhood for girls worldwide.
 This post supports the International Day of the Girl on October 11th on behalf of CARE.org and Charitable Influence, a network of bloggers using their voices for good.