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How The UNFPA and Rebel Girls are Empowering Girls Throughout the Arab Region

The United Nations Population Fund Arab states regional office has partnered with Rebel Girls to launch the “I Am A Rebel Girl” journal in Arabic, the first product launched by Rebel Girls in the Arab region, which invites girls throughout the region to express themselves freely in new and creative ways. Below is an excerpt from the UNFPA blog. To purchase the “I Am A Rebel Girl” journal in English, click here!

packaged goods

“There are things I wanted to say and couldn’t express, but the journal guided me through writing to express what is inside me,” says Rawda, a girl from Egypt, who recently participated in an activity featuring the “I Am A Rebel Girl” journal in Arabic. Her words were echoed by Huda, a girl from north-western Syria, who has “never felt this safe” expressing her personal thoughts and feelings. 

“I Am A Rebel Girl” in Arabic is the product of a unique partnership between UNFPA and the girl empowerment brand, Rebel Girls. Through empowering messages and breathtaking artworks, the journal invites Arab girls to imagine and realize their full potential by expressing their inner voices freely, without fear or shame. It is the first product launched by Rebel Girls in the Arab region and, more importantly, was developed in close collaboration with adolescent girls throughout the region, many of whom are surviving conflicts and other humanitarian crises. 

“UNFPA and Rebel Girls have a shared vision of empowering girls worldwide to stand up for their rights, express their thoughts freely, and find the support and inspiration they need to reach their full potential,” explains Laila Baker, the Regional Director of UNFPA in the Arab States. “We also believe that girls have the right to lead on the initiatives that target them, which is why we made sure to incorporate the voices of Arab girls from around the region into the messaging and design of the journal.”

a woman holding a medal

This collaborative process also necessitated the creation of entirely new art that reflects the voices and realities of girls in the region while staying true to the Rebel Girls spirit, interspersed with powerful quotes by the girls themselves. The journal also features stories of inspiring women from the region adapted from Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls — a children’s book packed with stories about the lives of extraordinary women from the past and the present, further encouraging girls to dream big. The result is a product that feels distinctly personal, motivational, and empowering. 

“The moment I laid eyes on the Rebel Girls journal, I wanted to know what’s inside and to use it to say what I’ve never said,” said Lara, a girl from Iraq, who participated in the pilot launch of the journal on International Day of the Girl. “I could see myself in many of the stories in the journal and I felt more comfortable writing down my own feelings and experiences.”   

In many communities in the region, girls — particularly adolescent girls — seldom have spaces or platforms where they can safely meet and share their thoughts, experiences, dreams, and realities. “I Am A Rebel Girl” builds on UNFPA’s ongoing efforts to bridge this gap by supporting girl-led and girl-friendly initiatives.   

Over the coming years, the Rebel Girls Journal in Arabic will play a central role in UNFPA’s adolescent girl programming in the Arab region, particularly its humanitarian programming. As girls throughout the region continue to suffer the effects of ongoing conflicts, displacement, economic collapse, and escalating risks of gender-based violence, fostering empowerment and agency remains an essential priority for UNFPA.  

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“With a shared vision of building a more equal world, we have been delighted to work with UNFPA on this edition of I Am A Rebel Girl,” said Michon Vanderpoel, Rebel Girls Head of Sales and Licensing. “As a brand dedicated to empowering girls around the world through stories of real-life extraordinary women, it was inspiring and rewarding to be guided by the ideas and feedback of girls throughout the Arab region to bring this project to life. With I Am A Rebel Girl, we are proud to offer girls a personal platform to express their thoughts freely, dream big, and envision a brighter future.”