Press Release

Melissa Kilby Receives UNFCU Foundation’s 2022 Women’s Empowerment Award for Leading Global Advocacy Movement Girl Up

By UNFCU Foundation

UNFCU Foundation recently honored Melissa Kilby, executive director of Girl Up, with its 2022 Women’s Empowerment Award. The virtual ceremony capped UNFCU Foundation’s 8th Annual Celebration of its grant-partners’ achievements to end poverty for women and youth. Partners detailed progress in education and health care, furthering the UN Sustainable Development Goals to which the UNFCU Foundation is aligned.

Ms. Kilby was recognized for her leadership elevating a grassroots fundraising campaign into a human rights movement spanning 150 countries.

Melissa Kilby, executive director of Girl Up, received the UNFCU Foundation 2022 Women’s Empowerment Award.

“Through mentorships, development programs, and advocacy initiatives, Girl Up has created opportunities for young women to lead,” said Yma Gordon, executive director of the UNFCU Foundation. “We congratulate Melissa for enabling youth to gain agency, connect, and be a force for gender equity and social change. Girl Up Club networking with adolescents in developing countries to tackle poverty draws our admiration and support.”

Among their achievements, Ms. Kilby and Girl Up champions were instrumental in advocating the passage of the Girls Count Act into US law. This legislation helps ensure that children everywhere are registered at birth and have a chance at a successful future.

“I am honored to accept this award on behalf of and in solidarity with the thousands of Girl Up leaders. They work every day to advance equality and justice for themselves, each other, and all girls around the world,” said Ms. Kilby, who joined Girl Up in 2011, just one year after its inception. “When girls rise, we all rise. I want to thank the UNFCU Foundation for recognizing that truth.”

Women change makers globally are eligible to receive the UNFCU Foundation’s award. Melissa Kilby joins past honorees:

  • Dr. Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, former executive director of UN Women and UN Under-Secretary-General (2021)
  • Stephanie Wright, co-founder of Together We Bake (2020)
  • Francine A. LeFrak, President of the Francine A. LeFrak Foundation (2019)
  • Cynthia Davis, Director of Community Outreach, the Floating Hospital (2018)
  • Dr. Erin Anastasi, Coordinator for the UNFPA-led Campaign to End Fistula (2017)
  • Ritu Sharma, author and advocate for gender equality (2016)
  • Sheryl WuDunn, Pulitzer Prize-winning author and humanitarian, and
  • Madame Ban Soon-taek, the former First Lady of the United Nations, who was honored in 2015 for her lifetime of service (2015)
About UNFCU Foundation

UNFCU Foundation is an accredited New York-based, non-profit corporation launched in 2015. It was established by the United Nations Federal Credit Union (UNFCU) with a mission to sustain the path out of poverty through healthcare and education for women and youth. Since its inception, UNFCU Foundation has supported programs to enable more than 31,000 marginalized women and youth to unlock their potential.

To learn more, follow UNFCU Foundation’s progress on YouTubeTwitterFacebookInstagram, and LinkedIn.

Media Contact

Elisabeth Philippe, UNFCU Foundation,, Tel. +1 347‑686‑6776; Mobile +1 347‑510‑4036

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