#UpForSchool awards for Girl Rising leaders

Girls' education, Up for School or #upforschool campaign

Shelly Esque and Holly Gordon accept #UpForSchool awards Picture: Steve Gong

They’re the amazing women behind the phenomenon of Girl Rising – and right now they’re absolutely soaring.

Girl Rising CEO Holly Gordon and Shelly Esque, Vice President of Intel Corporation, were honoured for their work in girls’ education when they received special awards at the #UpForSchool Town Hall event. The Girl Rising film uses the personal and powerful stories of nine girls in the developing world to help get children into education.

The recognition comes hot on the heels of the launch of Girl Rising India – a grassroots collaboration featuring a film produced by film stars and #UpForSchool supporters Frieda Pinto and Priyanka Chopra.

Girl Rising is also partnering with Michelle Obama’s Let Girls Learn initiative in the #62millionGirls campaign. She spoke about it at the Global Citizen Festival in New York and then again in front of 1000 schoolgirls at an event in the city.

Holly and Shelly were two of the five recipients of the #UpForSchool Awards, given to those who have done so much to advance the cause of global education over the past year. They were presented at the #UpForSchool Town Hall event in New York on September 28, where more than 1000 young people, campaigners, celebrities and leaders gathered to mark the hand-in of an incredible 10 million signatures for the #UpForSchool Petition. It demands the right of every child to get an education – no matter who they are or where they were born.

Holly was recognised for drawing attention to the critical issue of girls’ education through the use of the Girl Rising film. Shelly was honoured for investing in the film and making it a cornerstone of Intel’s global engagement.

The awards were presented by Bonnie Wright, the British actress, screenwriter and producer who starred in the Harry Potter films. She told the audience: “Over half of the out-of-school population are girls which means 30 million girls around the world are discriminated against because of their gender. They are married off early or forced into work.

“I am grateful to present two awards to two amazing women for their determination to ensure that every child, no matter what gender, has the right to dream of a future they desire through securing an education.”



#TBT as a girl! On #IWD2015 Stand #UpForSchool to empower next generation of women: Join us http://upforschool.org

A photo posted by Priyanka Chopra (@priyankachopra) on


Holly said: “Girl Rising represents the very same spirit as the petition that we are here to celebrate today. Behind this award are hundreds of people who helped to make the film, who came together from almost every sector and thousands more who have held screenings all over the world to bring the nine stories of the girls in our film to their own communities to represent the needs of girls.”

Referring to the hundreds of school students at the event, she added: “You guys are the changemakers of the future and please continue the fight.”

Accepting her award, Shelley said: “This is really a story of partnership. The thing we learned the most is that our very different organisations each brought our own strengths and energies and expertise to the project and made it even more impactful than we could have ever done alone. It all started with the same belief. Every girl with an education is…” Holly completed her sentence: “…a revolution.”

Girl Rising India – which premiered last month – is a new Bollywood version of the film, voiced in Hindi by Frieda, Priyanka and seven other Indian film stars. Girl Rising: ENGAGE India (Empowering Next Generations to Advance Girls Education) is an ambitious public-private partnership with USAid, Intel and others to take Girl Rising across the country.

Girl Rising was also part of a high-profile event on September 29 – a panel discussion on “The Power of the Educated Girl”. Hosted by Glamour magazine, it featured Michelle Obama, film star and UN Messenger of Peace Charlize Theron and Global Partnership for Education chair Julia Gillard.

The #62MillionGirls campaign recognises the number of girls (both of primary and secondary age) who are not in school around the world. 

A World at School’s Campaigns Director Ben Hewitt said: “We love that Girl Rising is using old school photos as part of the campaign. Celebrities shared their school pictures with us on #Throwback Thursday when we marked International Women’s Day in March.

“We worked  closely with Girl Rising on the #BringBackOurGirls campaign. We hope the school pictures inspire a movement to help get 62 million girls into school.”


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