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International Day of the Girl celebrated with mass mentoring

Speed mentoring on the Coca-Cola London Eye: Gillian Anderson, Ruby Wax, Julia Gillard, Jude Kelly CBE (Founder, WOW), Baroness Doreen Lawrence, Charlene White, Justine Greening, and pupils from Notre Dame Roman Catholic Girls' School, South London (Image: Belinda Lawley)

INTERNATIONAL DAY of the Girl was marked by Southbank Centre and WOW, the global gender equality movement and festival, with a mass mentoring session atop the Coca-Cola London Eye yesterday.

A hundred and fifty girls aged between 11-18 from 25 schools across London and beyond were paired with 150 successful women mentors from a range of professions and industries including film, media, engineering, sport, politics, transport, fashion and campaigning for 15-minute mentoring sessions celebrating the power and potential of girls.

Jude Kelly, founder of WOW - Women of the World Festivals, said: “I set up WOW in 2010 to create a movement for transformation around gender equality. With Southbank Centre, WOW established our first girls-only speed mentoring event on International Day of the Girl in 2012, giving hundreds of girls a voice and an opportunity to meet inspiring and powerful women whilst sailing above the city on the London Eye. Six years later it’s a testimony to these young women that the event is so successful, and that so many people are keen to take part and to support girls realise their potential”.

The mentors included: campaigner Baroness Doreen Lawrence, former prime minister of Australia Julia Gillard, actor Gillian Anderson, co-founder of the Women’s Equality Party Catherine Mayer, MPs Dawn Butler, Justine Greening, Chi Onwurah, Jess Phillips and Jo Swinson, TV presenter Dr Zoe Williams, gal-dem editor-in-chief Liv Little and writer Kathy Lette.

Each girl was matched at random with three different mentors and had three 15-minute sessions during two complete rotations of the London Eye, discussing the joys and challenges of being a girl.

Celebrations at Southbank Centre’s Royal Festival Hall continued with a day of activities including workshops, talks and performances from female artists and professionals, all on the theme of championing amazing girls and women who have made changes in their communities and beyond, and inspired others to do the same.

Elaine Bedell, chief executive of Southbank Centre said: “We are delighted to be able to host such a stellar line-up of inspirational women at our seventh speed mentoring event celebrating International Day of the Girl. This annual gathering is a key part of Southbank Centre’s programme and we are proud to be able to play a small role in shaping these girls’ futures by introducing them to so many brilliant women who have made a real difference in the industries they operate in.”

The United Nations declared October 11 as the International Day of the Girl in 2012, marking a moment to celebrate girls’ potential and their achievements, and acknowledging the challenges millions face around the world.

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