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In 1995, twenty-five Kenyan women went to Beijing for the Fourth World Conference on Women. Amid discussions of poverty, health, violence, and education, they called delegates to consider the unique experience of the girl child. They knew that issues like child marriage, female genital mutilation, and lack of access to education were all too real for girls they knew and girls around the world.
When they left Beijing in September of 1995, these women had the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, which outlined nine objectives for work related to the girl child. They also had a plan for making these objectives a reality in East Africa: connect everyone working with girls to create a unified and informed network. For the next three years, they built a strong, field-tested knowledge base.
In 1998, Girl Child Network officially registered as an NGO in Kenya. Soon after, in 2000, one of the original visionaries came to work for GCN full time. Mercy Musomi is still our Executive Director today. She has never stopped dreaming—or sharing her dream—of a brighter future for girls in East Africa.
Since then, we have grown from a staff of one to a staff of over 30. We now connect over 300 organizations that are working to protect and promote the rights of girls and boys in Africa. We directly implement health and education projects, and we've used our expertise in gender and child rights to carry out research and influence policy. Our gender-sensitive and rights-based approach keeps the focus on the girls and reminds them that they have the power to build the world they want to live in!