Chicago is known for its wind, its hot dogs, its lake and Barack Obama.  But after 10x10 partner’s Girl Up’s “Unite for Girls” tour took over the Chicago Theater last week, it’ll also be known for the power of a group of teenage girls determined to end early marriage.

Girl Up Teen Advisors at

The United Nations Foundation’s Girl Up campaign joined forces with 10x10 and The Project Girls Performance Collective from New York to create an event that combined theater, dance, monologue, panel discussions, drama and film, teaching young women about how we can work together to stop early marriage in the developing world.  This is the first of a series of “Unite for Girls” events that will take place around the country this year.

After a day of workshops the whole crowd was involved in an interactive game in the theater.  When each of us walked in, we were given a “passport.”  Everyone stood.  First, those with yellow stickers on their “passports” sit down – that was the percentage of girls who don’t go to school at all in Ethiopia.  Then those with green stickers were told to sit – even a smaller percentage of girls go to a school that has clean water and sanitation.  By the end of the game, only a few of us were standing – visually demonstrating what a tiny percentage of girls in Ethiopia attend a school with clean water, avoid early marriage, and graduate from high school.

Following the game, the girls watched a powerful video story produced by 10x10 for Girl Up about early marriage in Ethiopia.  Girl Up will be sharing this video soon, and we’ll share it with you as soon as it’s available –the video left the room teary-eyed, but ready to make change happen.  Next up was the Project Girl Performance Collective, who, through drama, song, dance and poetry conveyed to the audience the unjustness of not having a choice in who and when you marry.

The event concluded with the entire audience reciting the Girl Up “Girlafesto.”

”Unite for Girls” will be traveling around the United States this fall – sign the Girl Up petition to end early marriage, and they will let you know when it’s coming to your city.