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Celebrity Voluntourism

Girl Be Heard

Girl Power
February 21, 2013
By , Celebrity Contributor

No woman, no cry. The young women of Girl Be Heard have been standing up to violence against women since 2008, through a theatrical program which empowers them to write, direct, and perform shows. Globe-trotting photographer and former America’s Next Top Model judge Nigel Barker joined forces with GBH to host their recent NYC launch. His message was simple: Listen up and spread the word. And thanks to those sexy dimples and charming accent, that’s exactly what everyone’s doing. Galavante met up with Nigel Barker to find out more.

Galavante: How did you get involved with Girl Be Heard?

Nigel Barker: I met Girl Be Heard at one of our events about two years ago, and I thought their performance was so moving and breathtaking that I needed to get involved. I’m also the ambassador for Girl Up, which is an incredible initiative that the United Nations Foundation started years ago in order to highlight women’s issues around the world. I have a top model TV show that I do, and I wanted everyone to listen to this incredible message by these amazing young ladies at GBH. They invited me to hear them perform their Trafficked performance at the UN and I was blown away. It was just the most eye-opening showcase about sex trafficking in the U.S. It’s not just an issue around the rest of the world; it’s happening right in our backyard.

Galavante: Have you worked with other countries on these issues?

Nigel Barker: I’ve done documentaries around the world about all kinds of issues, including Liberia, Colombia, and Haiti. Along with Girl Be Heard, we're dealing with child pornography, child marriage, sex trafficking, women not being allowed education, and slavery.

Galavante: How are you resolving these issues?

Nigel Barker: For me, it’s about getting people educated with what’s going on. You hear about the sex trade and underground rings of prostitution, and you don’t think about it happening on your doorstep. And in some cultures, it can be acceptable to marry a girl off when she is 12, and as a result she’s not going to get educated and she’s not going to get a chance in life. Young teenage pregnancy and childbirth can also risk a young girl’s life. If we all stand up together and say this has to stop, people will listen. It takes that solidarity.

Galavante: What can individuals do to make a difference?

Nigel Barker: Raising money is a big deal. Girl Be Heard is all about getting American girls to do fundraisers, go to events, rally. The next generation of women are these powerful young girls who aren’t going to sit quietly. I have a daughter of my own and I want her to grow up and realize that she has every opportunity like her brother in this world.

Galavante: Upcoming projects of your own?

Nigel Barker: My new show The Face is premiering this month, which is exciting. I’m also working on my first feature film. It’s about the life and times of a human rights activist named David Mixner, who was very active in gay rights. He’s an extraordinary man born in the ‘50s and he played a big part with everyone, from Martin Luther King to Vietnam War protests, so there’s a very interesting story there and I’m excited to be producing and directing it.

Get Involved: www.girlbeheard.org