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Rise Up Youth Champion and creator of Girlythings, Tanzila Khan.


Denise Raquel Dunning, Founder + Executive Director

“You need to use your pain, and craft it into something worthy.”

These powerful words have echoed in my ears since I interviewed Tanzila Khan, a Pakistani disability rights activist who is part of Rise Up’s Youth Champions Initiative. In the interview, Tanzila told me and the Stanford students I worked with as a Social Entrepreneur in Residence about her journey growing up in Pakistan.

In a country where only 41% of girls complete primary school, Tanzila shared with us that she has faced a double burden – being born a girl, and being born with a physical disability. Tanzila realized as a child that a girl’s only value in Pakistan is to be married, and that being in a wheelchair made her unmarriageable, and therefore worthless. Deeply marginalized by her community, Tanzila struggled for years against stigma and discrimination—but she refused to give up.

To read more about Tanzila's incredible story, click here or the button below.



Rise Up stands in solidarity with our allies, partners, and grantees in opposing the “zero-tolerance” immigration policy that included separating children from their migrant parents when they cross the U.S. border. This policy negates the basic human rights, safety, and well-being of the 2,342 (and counting) children and their parents being held in U.S. detention centers.

Click here to read our full statement.

Rise Up Lead Trainer Grace Kaimila-Kanjo (second from right), the lead facilitator for the ENGAGE Civil Society Organization Leadership and Advocacy Workshop, supports participants during a group exercise.  


In late May, Rise Up gathered a cohort of 18 civil society and community organization leaders for an intensive seven-day leadership and advocacy workshop dedicated to reducing child marriage in Thyolo District in Southern Malawi.

Brought together through the Rise Up ENGAGE (Enabling Girls to Advance Gender Equity) Initiative, the leaders dug into various topics like advocacy, leadership development, and decision-maker education. Throughout the week they discussed the driving causes of child marriage in Southern Malawi and identified possible solutions to help create a more equitable environment for girls to grow and thrive in communities across Thyolo.

During the training the cohort of leaders was able to engage directly with two local chiefs, government leaders, girl leaders from Traditional Authority Changata and Nchilemwera in Thyolo, and ENGAGE partner organizations, Girls Empowerment Network (GENET) and Youth Net and Counselling.

The value of this advocacy work was reinforced as the training overlapped with a major policy-change win in the nearby district of Phalombe. Thanks to the continued effort of girl advocates trained by GENET through ENGAGE, the Phalombe Senior Chief in Chiwalo raised the minimum marriage age from 18 to 21 in his jurisdiction.

Click here or the button below to read more information about the new ENGAGE leaders in Southern Malawi.

Rise Up Champions have been organizing and contributing to recovery efforts in Guatemala since the Fuego volcano eruption in early June. 


The tragic and deadly eruption of the Fuego volcano earlier this month in Guatemala reminded us of the tremendous power of nature, and also of the relentless fortitude of our Champions and allies. More than 3,000 people were evacuated from their homes, thousands of acres of cultivated land were lost, and unfortunately more than a hundred were buried by mud in their own homes.

As rescue efforts began to organize, so did Rise Up Champions in Guatemala. Many of our leaders, grantees and partner organizations organized or contributed to recovery efforts; donated food, clothes, and supplies; and traveled to the affected areas to help. Rise Up Champion Saúl Interiano, from Asociación Coincidir, organized a relief and donation center, and personally delivered to the towns. Likewise, Rise Up Champion Guillermo Leverman, from Childfund, is leading a response effort to provide psychological support to affected families.

The way to recovery is long and challenging, and our commitment to invest in Guatemala is stronger than ever. In solidarity, we Rise Up with Saúl and Guillermo and all our allies who have responded quickly and effectively to support those impacted by the volcano eruption in Guatemala.

Rise Up's Kaitlin Chandler (center) receives the recently-awarded grant check from students on Stanford PACS Human Rights team.


Rise Up was selected to receive a grant from Stanford University’s Center on Philanthropy and Civil Society (PACS). We were honored to have been chosen by a student Human Rights team for the award through The Philanthropy Lab.

With funding from Stanford PACS, we will invest in Rise Up’s Quetzaltenango Girl Network and our partners in Guatemala to address gender-based violence and advance laws, policies, and social norms that improve the rights of women and girls. Grants like this enable us to activate a powerful network of leaders to raise their voices, advocate for improved policies and programs, and drive sustainable change to tackle the legal, cultural, and structural obstacles that adolescent girls face.



At Rise Up, we see a future with girls and women thriving in a more just and equitable world. We believe in the power of girls and women to drive exponential change. If you agree, join our team! We are currently looking for a Development / Communications Associate, a Program Associate and a Master Trainer with an Africa focus. 
Rise Up activates women and girls to transform their lives, families and communities through investment in local solutions, strengthening leadership, and building movements. Since 2009, Rise Up's powerful network of over 500 leaders has directly benefited 7 million girls, youth, and women, advocating for over 100 laws and policies impacting 115 million people in Africa, Latin America, South Asia, and the US. Rise Up is based at the Public Health Institute (PHI), a leader in global health and development for over 50 years.
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