As part of its celebration of International Day of the Girl, the United Nations Foundation is working with partners to spotlight issues affecting the world’s girls, and what girls want from the world. Reflecting on these themes and so much more, Michelle Milford Morse, our Vice President for Girls and Women Strategy, met with Rocío Mejía, a Girl Up leader and 17-year-old high school student who is dedicated to advancing girls’ rights and opportunities, speaking up against gender inequality and violence, and supporting positive disruption of the fashion and media industries, too.

Michelle Milford Morse: Rocío, tell me how you became an activist and leader for girls’ rights. Which issues are most critical to girls becoming #EqualEverywhere, and why?

Rocío Mejía: Everything started when my sister taught me how to stand up for what my heart tells me to. It was then that I realized the reality of life for women in Mexico did not align with my beliefs. I’d watch the news and see nothing but cases of sexual violence against girls, inequality of opportunities, homicide. My heart would literally tremble in fear because those things happen every day, but no one does anything about it.

I figured that by staying silent I would become an accomplice, so I had to speak up for the women who don‘t have a voice anymore and elevate those voices that have been crying in silence for so long. Maybe I don‘t have enough power to change how things are in Mexico by myself, but I do believe, and it has been proven many times, that when women come together, we can move seas and make the earth tremble.

The thought of women being so powerful has been my biggest motivation. I’ve seen that power in my sister and my mother, grandmother, and my aunts and all the women who live with me. I look up to them constantly.

Read the full article about girls' education by Michelle Milford Morse at United Nations Foundation.