School Girls Unite

The mission of this international initiative of the Youth Activism Project:
To tackle prejudice against girls globally and expand their freedom and opportunities through education and leadership development.

School Girls Unite started as a community-based pilot program in the Washington, D.C. area in 2004. An intergenerational team included 12-year-old girls and young African women who joined together with the Youth Activism Project. A natural link existed with Mali because two of the founding members of School Girls Unite are from this West African country. UNICEF identifies Mali as one of the 25 countries needing “emergency action” where less than 20% of girls attend high school and only 2% go onto university. In the capital city, Bamako, two dozen young women who have the opportunity to attend high school or university comprise our partner organization called Les Filles Unies pour l’Education.

Since its inception, School Girls Unite and Les Filles Unies activists advocate for gender equity and universal education in the U.S. and in Mali about the benefits of educating girls and to make an immediate impact on the lives of girls in West Africa. We communicate via emails, Facebook and Skype.

  • School Girls raise money for our scholarship fund and our sister organization, Les Filles Unies, manage and oversee this program that sponsors 50 girls in a cluster of four villages in Mali by paying school fees, school supplies, books and tutoring.
  • We speak to audiences of all ages in Mali and the U.S. to increase awareness and encourage them to be advocates for girls’ rights.
  • School Girls Unite is a coalition member of the Global Campaign for Education-USA. We meet with government officials including Members of Congress and our sister organization also communicates with the Mali Ministry of Education and Parliamentarians.
  • We have written a bilingual action guide, Girls Gone Activist! How to Change the World through Education/Les Filles Deviennent des Activistes! Comment changer le monde par l’education. This free e-book is available at
  • Activist Gameplan! Put Your Passion into Action is our latest new free toolkit written by girls for girls. This resource includes fact sheets, success stories, social media strategies, fundraising ideas and effective ways to persuade your Members of Congress to support Education for All.

“The future of Mali depends on an educated society, especially girls, because we know the crucial role of women in eradicating poverty.” ~ Bintou Soumaoro, president of Les Filles Unies pour l’Education

“School Girls Unite started out wanting to help send girls to school,but just like we’ve grown up, now it’s about larger issues. Educating girls will save the world by creating more more scientists to solve global warming, lawyers to make the world fairer,and leaders to resolve conflicts without war.” ~Joanne Conelley, co-founder of School Girls Unite

Our 2011 campaign, inspired by efforts in young Canada activists to establish an annual girls’ rights day, succeeded. With the U.S. support, the United Nations established the International Day of the Girl Child on October 11 each year.  The first state proclamation for 10.11.12 drafted by School Girls Unite in Maryland  approved by Governor O’Malley.  Girls in over 50 cities got official local and state proclamations to celebrate girls’ potential and equality for girls globally. Day of the Girl-US now is an independent 100% youth-led movement not affiliated with School Girls Unite. Please check out and

  • 2005 – School Girls Unite won “Women of Tomorrow Award” from the Maryland Commission for Women
  • 2005 – First founding member Shannon Sullivan won the Middle School Student Prudential Spirit of Community Award
  • 2006 – School Girls Unite was one of only 8 country teams selected to participate in the International Girls Summit
  • 2007 – Les Filles Unies pour l’Education & School Girls Unite won the Global Youth Volunteering Research Award from Innovations in Civic Participation
  • 2007 – School Girls Unite leader Molara Obe won the Angels in Action Award
  • 2007 – Dandio Coulibaly, the youngest member of School Girls Unite, was selected as New Moon magazine’s “25 Most Beautiful Girls from the Inside Out”
  • 2008 – School Girls Unite Child Marriage Prevention Project Coordinator Mira Fleming won the U.N. Youth Assembly’s Achievement Award
  • 2011 – School Girls Unite launched a successful national campaign to mobilize U.S. support to establish a United Nations annual girls’ rights day
  • 2012 – Filles Unies President Bintou Soumaoro participated in the World Youth Congress in Rio
  • 2012 – Filles Unies and School Girls Unite joined hundreds of groups worldwide that celebrated the first ever UN International Day of the Girl Child
  • 2013  – School Girls Unite Co-President Julia Fine wins national contest and her essay chosen by Malala Yousafzai
  • 2013 – Filles Unies past President Bintou Soumaoro speaks at plenary session of One Young World Summit in Johannesburg

School Girls Unite students are very persuasive with many Members of Congress. The last increase of $200 million for international assistance [Education For All] was due to your efforts.”  ~ U.S. Congressman Van Hollen

“This treasury [Girls Gone Activist] of encouragement and strategies can serve as a handbook for any youth-led cause.” ~ Youth Today

“Long live School Girls and Filles Unies. Thanks to this scholarship program, the girls are dressed like their schoolmates, they are not fearful anymore, they are very alert and happy; they are among the top five students in their class.” ~ Fall Bagayoko, Principal, N’Tjilla School, Mali

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Please consider making a tax-deductible donation to support our scholarship program that is transforming the lives of 40 girls in Mali…