Sunday the 11th of October was a special day for the Good Shepherd community right across Asia Pacific. It was of course, the International Day of the Girl Child 2020 but something new and exciting was happening.
“My Voice = Our Future” the theme for the day was wholly embraced as we saw not only the strength of the girl voice across the region but also a strong sense of hope for the future. In a ground breaking first for Good Shepherd and a wonderful display of unity, units from across the Asia Pacific region teamed up to celebrate International Day of the Girl Child in unique and groundbreaking ways.
Some may say it was seeded by the Good Shepherd Position Paper events over the last 6 months. These events linked the Good Shepherd community from across the globe to deepen our understanding and application of the position papers via a series of Zoom sessions. The common understanding and sense of community created by these events had clearly placed the global Good Shepherd community in a heightened state of unity and shared purpose.
The initial idea to join together was originated with Theresa Symons from the GSIF Asia Pacific Regional Office. From that initial spark grew a flame that quickly engaged key supporters across the region. A planning committee self germinated and taking the theme, My Voice = Our Future, ideas quickly grew and grew. There was a sense of excitement and optimism from the start. Soon there were a number of mini committees all planning separate projects that together would form part of the integrated Good Shepherd Asia Pacific International Day of the Girl Child program for 2020.
One group, led by Sr Winifred Doherty of GSIJPO (Good Shepherd International Justice Peace Office) began planning a virtual panel forum that would highlight key issues girls face and provide a place for girls voices to be heard. Initial ideas were driven by the topics and discussion from the recent Good Shepherd Position Paper events. Potential speakers and contributors were contacted and provided with guidance and support. Soon it was decided that this event would also be live streamed on YouTube to enable the maximum participation. There was a strong desire to connect and reach out as far and wide as possible to share the message of advocacy for girls. Ideas for the forum content and format were quickly generated and soon ideas for other complementary events and programs grew.
Schools across the region joined together to plan and implement an integrated and common program that would raise awareness and empower girls in their schools. An IDG program of school events would lead up to and extend for two months beyond IDG. Awareness raising activities, logo and poster competitions and even a song was written and produced by the staff and students at Good Shepherd Convent Kandy in Sri Lanka.
One group worked to create an official Good Shepherd video for IDG 2020. The request for contributions went out and Good Shepherd schools and social services right across Asia Pacific sent in videos that explored the theme, My Voice = Our Future. Anjeline Angeles (Anj), a young video editor in the Philippines was engaged to creatively bring all the contributions together. The resulting video was a powerful expression of the creativity, unity, strength and hope for the rights of the girl child.
Another group with members from Australia and the Philippines began work on a cyber safety campaign. Graphics and colour schema were created that would be utilised across all Good Shepherd communication in the region for the duration of the IDG program. This was another way of displaying our unity as well as a great example of sharing expertise across the Good Shepherd global community. Thanks to Ciara, Diane and Cayley. This group also began work on a social media campaign that would raise awareness about the plight of the girl child and promote the special live forum event planned for October 11th. Content for this campaign came directly from the Good Shepherd position paper of the Girl Child. A list of all unit social media account was collated and units began following, liking and sharing each others accounts as a way to ensure maximum reach. Posts to all social media platforms began on October 1st and the count down to the big day began.
In the final days the planning committees all met to consolidate their plans and ensure all elements were in place for the live forum event. A few practice sessions and all was set in place.
Sunday October 11, 2020, International Day of the Girl Child finally was upon us. There was much anticipation in the air as well as a little anxiety. At 9:30 MYT we went live with a lovely welcome from our hosts, 6 year old twins Deepika and Deepthi along with their mother Melissa. Deepika and Deepthi are students at Villamaria Good Shepherd Kindergarten in Kuala Lumpur,Malaysia. Their energy was infectious and provided a great start to the day. During the first session Deepika and Deepthi helped announce winners of the logo and poster competitions as well as survey the location and age of the audience. One highlight of this session was the sharing of the official song created by the staff and students of Good Shepherd Convent Kandy in Sri Lanka. A wonderful example of talent to create such a powerful and catchy song.
Another highlight was the official release of the Good Shepherd IDG My Voice = Our Future video. Anj created a meaningful video that raised awareness of issues affecting the girl child and created a strong sense of hope and strength. We estimate that over 6000 people participated or watched the live stream on the day. This was an amazing achievement and has proved to be a great platform for sharing the message about the rights of the girl child.
The live IDG forum hosted by Winifred from New York, connecting with guest speakers from across Asia and the US. The excellent support and gentle guidance provided by Winifred was evident in the way each of the girls shared their stories. They each had a powerful story to tell and were able to engage the audience attention fully. As a viewer, this was a moving experience. To hear the real life challenges and struggles these girls faced melted our hearts. As powerful role models, each girl showed how they have triumphed despite adversity and left us all with a real sense of hope. This forum clearly sent the message to all that together with purpose, girls can change the world and achieve their dreams.
The message of IDG continues to be shared as Good Shepherd schools conduct events and messaging until December. This messaging is being spread far and wide now that all social media accounts of the various Good Shepherd units are linked. This also means that any future advocacy work shared on social media in the future benefits from these new connections.
12 November, 2020