Joyce Banda presents UN award to Girl Up Advocate: International Women’s Day

The luncheon highlighted the progress the world has made in the 20 years since the historic UN conference on women in Beijing and the need to step up efforts to make gender equality a reality. It celebrated the power of investing in girls and women to drive change.

Among the high profile guests in attendance were United States of America Deputy Secretary of State Heather Higginbottom, Grammy Award-winning violinist,Miri Ben-Ari, and other high profile global youth advocates.

Additionally, to commemorate International Women’s Day, UN Foundation leaders are writing about the world they picture for girls and women in 2030 and how to achieve it. It is about setting a platform of vision for the youth, especially girls, and creating a roadmap for them to reach their full potential in life.


Each year the UN Foundation Girl’s Up Campaign celebrates International Women’s Day by honoring a young girl for outstanding achievement on the improvement of the lives of girls.

This year under the theme ‘Girls Count’ campaign, UN Foundation decided to honour a young lady advocate of 18 years named Kennede Reese. Dr. Joyce Banda presented this young lady with her award from the UN Foundation

Kennede has been recognized for her gallant fight to have all girls born in America registered as well as help prevent discrimination against baby girls. These rights would only be possible after the passing of a bill that Kennede helped to lobby for.
The passing of this bill sent a strong message to the world that girls deserve to be recognized and their rights must be protected. Advocates like Kennede could play a leadership role in working toward these rights around the globe.

Kennede has been volunteering at the local level since the age of 12. She is a part of the Girl Up campaign as a teen advisor and she is no ordinary teenage. 

Soon after she joined Girls Up as a part of the UN Foundation as a teen advisor she opened a branch in Colorado called SMARRTT GIRL.

Even though she is just a senior at St. Mary’s Academy in Colorado, Kennede has gone above and beyond to advocate for girls in her state of Colorado as well as across America.

From the initial introduction of the Girls Count Campaign in 2013, Kennede worked hard to support the bill and called on members of Congress to do the same.

Kennede did not stop there. In May of 2014, she lobbied with senators and set up meetings to talk about the issues at hand. Once the bill was introduced to the senate she continued to meet with senators and follow with the senate offices vigorously. This past fall she participated in calling congressional offices to push for passing of this bill Congressional offices.

Presenting the Award on behalf of the UN Foundation, Banda congratulated Kennede for her courage. At her age she has taken her lobby all the way to the White House.

Banda said the onus is on world leaders and all adults to create space for young girls that demonstrate leadership qualities to take their rightful place in society and empower fellow girls.

“Girls like Kennede need our full support and encouragement,” said the first woman Head of State of Malawi.

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