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Empowering, Inspiring, and Connecting Refugee Girls


In Celebration of International Day of the Girl Oct. 11

The first question posed to 40 refugee girls, at a special Girl Scout program for International Day of the Girl Tuesday Oct. 8, was “what is your dream job?”

The girls wrote their answers on a sheet of poster paper quickly: doctor, nurse, teacher, chef, soccer player, veterinarian, painter, lawyer.

This marked the start of the day of activities held in celebration of International Day of the Girl by the International Rescue Committee (IRC) and Girl Scouts–Arizona Cactus-Pine Council (GSACPC). Forty refugee girls, ages 13 to 18, participated in the day, which was held at Girl Scouts’ Parsons Leadership Center in South Phoenix. The girls were from several countries, including Myanmar, Burundi, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Eritrea, Ivory Coast, Mexico, and Rwanda.

During the day, the girls took part in a variety of skill-building activities alongside fellow Girl Scouts, in addition to receiving a donation of necessities. The girls were encouraged to dream about their goals and learn essential skills, with the goal of empowering, inspiring, and connecting girls to the larger Arizona community.

“Our goal for the day was to make sure that these girls knew that they could achieve whatever they wanted,” said Riley McMahon, IRC Job Training AmeriCorps and one of the organizers of the event. “We wanted to make sure they were empowered to pursue their dreams.”

The day of activities was the latest in partnership between the IRC and GSACPC. Over the past two years, the two organizations have partnered on multiple programs for girls including International Day of the Girl activities as well as summer camp for refugee youth.

“Girl Scout Leadership Experience programs empower girls to develop a strong sense of self and to strive to be leaders, and our volunteers and staff help nurture and foster that development,” said Jenny Sharbaugh, Outreach Coordinator for Social Impact Programs at GSACPC. “The Girl Scout program helps girls not only make friends but also to learn how to successfully collaborate with other girls and lift one another up. We’re excited to partner with IRC, because we know that what girls gain through Girl Scouting positively affects all areas of their lives. And the benefits of Girl Scouting are not exclusive to any demographic, which means that no matter where girls live or what their age or background, Girl Scouts can help them develop to their full potential and excel in all aspects of life.”

Since 2012, the United Nations has marked Oct. 11 as the International Day of the Girl ( The day aims to highlight and address the needs and challenges that girls face, while promoting girls' empowerment and the fulfillment of their human rights. This year’s theme is “GirlForce: Unscripted and unstoppable,” to celebrate achievements by, with, and for girls.

During one of the final activities, each refugee girl created a dream board to reflect on their experience and think about their future. One girl’s board read: “Girls are amazing. Girls can do anything. Girls have the right to [make] their own decisions.”

GSACPC and IRC wholeheartedly agree.

Women and girls—worldwide, but especially in crisis zones—face violence, discrimination, and a lack of opportunities that threaten their lives and rob them of their potential. But with the right support, they can change their futures. Learn more about our work to empower women and girls globally:

Learn more about how you can donate to the Social Impact Program at GSACPC.