By Beh Lih Yi
JAKARTA (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - Teenage girls across the world became government ministers, mayors and chief executives for a day on Tuesday in a global campaign to push for greater gender equality.
They staged the mock takeover in more than 50 countries - including Thailand, Bangladesh and Canada - as political and business figures stepped aside to let the girls take charge of issues affecting them, from child marriage to child labor.
"The takeover is a great statement of girls' power and their ability to change the world," said Anne-Birgitte Albrectsen, head of children's charity Plan International, which organized the campaign to mark the International Day of the Girl Child.
"It also serves as a reminder to governments how millions of girls are held back and denied an equal chance in life just because they are girls," she added in a statement.
Women head only 14 of 194 governments globally. Less than 4 percent of the world's 500 top corporations are led by women, according to Plan International, citing discrimination as a reason why women are left behind.
In Indonesia, 17-year-old Nur Annisa was named as the "manpower minister" for the day after she beat 600 other high school students who competed for the post in the campaign.
"I am nervous but very proud," Annisa told reporters before chairing a meeting with the new line-up at the ministry made up of 10 other teenage boys and girls.
"I will lead my ministry to identify the root causes of child labor and our action plan to tackle it," she said, adding that the campaign has inspired her to become a politician.
The International Day of the Girl Child, which takes place on Oct. 11 every year, is a United Nations initiative to recognize the rights of the 1.1 billion girls around the world and the challenges they face.
(Reporting by Beh Lih Yi @behlihyi, Editing by Katie Nguyen)