Together for Girls rang the New York Stock Exchange opening bell on September 16, to celebrate a decade of partnership.
The moment came almost exactly 10 years after Together for Girls was founded in September 2009 by Gary Cohen, Executive Vice President of Global Health at BD and President of the BD Foundation. It was an important moment to recognize all that the partnership has achieved, but also to raise awareness about how much work is left to be done.
Together for Girls was joined by partners and allies from throughout the history of the partnership, including Together for Girls CEO & Executive Director Dr. Daniela Ligiero; the First Lady of Colombia, María Juliana Ruiz Sandoval; the UN Ambassador of Canada, Marc-André Blanchard; Dr. Jim Mercy, Director of Violence Prevention at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control; Dr. Lauren Rumble, Senior Advisor at UNICEF; and Michele Moloney-Kitts, First Executive Director of Together for Girls. Together for Girls’ Safe Heroes also attended the ceremony, including Project Director of the Nigeria-based Hacey’s Health Initiative, Isaiah Owolabi; and activist and author, Chessy Prout.
Before the opening bell ceremony, partners gathered to discuss the past decade of work.
The Permanent Representative of Canada to the United Nations, Marc-André Blanchard, noted the importance of collaboration when combating an issue like violence against children.
“The systemic challenges we face in this world command us to work together in partnership,” he said. “Breaking down the silos is tough – but not impossible.”
Her Excellency María Juliana Ruiz Sandoval, the First Lady of Colombia, noted the importance of participating in the Together for Girls model and utilizing Violence Against Children and Youth Surveys (VACS) data to allow for evidence-based policy.
“Working with Together for Girls is the first time we have been able to bring together a multisectoral approach to this issue,” she said. “Violence against children is not a matter of individuals; this is a community problem. We are grateful to be a part of this program and have the data and the tools to address the problem.”
Dr. Jim Mercy, Director of Violence Prevention at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, who has worked with the partnership since the very beginning, reiterated the importance of Together for Girls ongoing mission.
“The Together for Girls partnership calls us to a higher level of consciousness. It helps us to understand the magnitude of the problem and the importance of amplifying solutions. My favorite quote is from Jack Shonkoff, when he says ‘one of the most powerful ways to change the world is to make it a better place for kids.’ I would add on to that and say that one of the ways to make it a better place for kids is to make it a world with less violence. That is what Together for Girls is trying to achieve.”