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Girls Voices for Change Judges

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Our esteemed panel of judges will select the winner of the Big Idea prize, in which Girls’ Voices participants use digital media to present a disparity in girls’ education, along with a proposed youth-led solution. Winners will receive a $1000 grant to implement their project idea, supported by a mentor in the social entrepreneurship field.  We are grateful to our judges - leaders who are making the world a better place through their films, photography and intense advocacy for girls around the world.

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Ravi Karkara


Ravi Karkara is Senior Advisor on Strategic Partnerships and Advocacy to the Assistant Secretary General to the UN and Deputy Executive Director, UN Women. With over two decades of experience, Ravi is an expert in various international development-related fields, driving innovation, building strategic partnerships, and promoting advocacy and programming in the areas of human rights, gender equality, accountability and social justice. He is also the Acting Head of Private Sector for UN Women.

Ravi has been the force behind several high-value strategic partnerships, resource mobilization, and key advocacy initiatives for UN Women – including partnerships with the City of New York, MasterCard, CitiGroup to name a few. His innovative advocacy initiatives include Ringing the Bell on Gender Equality in over 34 stock exchanges across the globe, and the Gender Equality March from the United Nations headquarters to Time Square in New York City. Ravi has been instrumental in supporting UN Women’s work on strategy development – this includes Strategy on Youth and Gender Equality, Working with Boys and Men in Gender Equality. He works with celebrity influencers as part of Planety50-50 Champions in support of UN Women. Ravi represents UN Women as the co-chair of the UN Inter-Agency Network on Youth and Development and founded its Working Group on Youth and Gender Equality. Ravi also has an ongoing commitment to cultivating young people’s creativity and engagement online, and is a tireless advocate for connecting youth with one another. He developed and led the youth outreach of the UN Secretary General's My-World Survey to deliver votes from more than 6 million youth from 193 nations.

Ravi has been the recipient of the prestigious NOVUS Award. He is listed as the Top 10 Global Diversity Experts-Consultants produced by Prestigious "Global Diversity List” by BNP Paribas and the Telegraph UK. Previously, he has also worked with the UN Millennium Campaign, UN-HABITAT, UNICEF and Save the Children and has written more than 80 publications/articles in his career spanning over two decades.  

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Rebecca Dharmapalan

Rebecca is a sociology student at UC Berkeley, a  filmmaker, an artist and activist.  Selected as “21 under 21 Girls and Femmes who are Changing the World,” by Teen Vogue, Rebecca works  to bring awareness to the issue of Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children in her hometown, Oakland California.  Rebecca exposed this issue in her first film, "International Boulevard a Documentary," which won grand prize at Girls Impact the World film festival at Harvard University, the Los Angeles International Film Festival and received Honorable Mention at Harvard Westlake Film Festival in Los Angeles, CA. “International Boulevard” also won the Jewish American Film Festival in Los Angeles, was a second place winner of Adobe Youth Voices in New York and recently won the Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival.


Rebecca's continued her work, becoming Chair of Oakland Youth Commission and creating the first ever Commercially Sexual Exploitation of Children  task force in the country. Through the Youth Commission, Rebecca worked on a citywide billboard campaign to create awareness of child sex trafficking and reach children who were trapped in "the life." She spoke at TEDx Teen London in 2015 to encourage other teens to take action on the issues that they believe in. Because of her advocacy and film work, Rebecca was selected this year as Glamour’s College Women of the Year in 2017. This summer, Rebecca is working at the Organization for Eelam Refugees, supporting Sri Lankan refugees who are returning home from India.

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Natalie Avital

Natalie Avital is a filmmaker who has spent the past two decades working as an actor, freelance casting director, producer and documentary film director. She directed and produced the feature documentary, 3 HIKERS, which premiered at AFI Docs in June of 2015 and has been on the festival circuit since with screenings at festivals including Woodstock FF, Ashland IFF, Salem FF, Bentonville IFF,  the Los Angeles Fall Arclight Doc Series, AmDocs in Palm Springs, the Altanta Jewish Film Festival and JFilm Pittsburgh. 3 HIKERS premiered on VoD platforms at the end of March 2017, and in September 2017, the film will make its TV Broadcast debut on Starz. In addition to producing and directing 3 HIKERS, Natalie also co-produced the 2015 documentary STATE OF CONTROL. Her recent directing projects include episodes of the web series, UNCORKED, the short film, THE ACCENT WALL, and ARMY OF COMEDY (a feature documentary currently in development.) As a producer, she's working on the documentary feature PEACEFIRE (also currently in development)). Natalie is a part-time teacher at AMDA (Los Angeles campus). She is also a member of the Alliance of Women Directors. Natalie has an interest in expanding opportunities for all girls and women to explore their voice and creativity, and was a founding creative for the Girls’ Voices initiative. Natalie received her BA in Theater Arts from UCLA.

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Seth Casteel

Seth Casteel is an award-winning photographer and the New York Times Best Selling Author of Underwater Dogs, Underwater Puppies, Underwater Babies and four children's books. In February of 2012, Seth's series of photos showcasing dogs diving into swimming pools became an Internet sensation overnight, reaching over 100 million people in less than 24 hours. This sudden attention resulted in a book deal with Little, Brown and Company. Now with over half a million copies in print around the world, Underwater Dogs is one of the best selling photography books of all-time. Seth has gone on to publish a total of seven books and his eighth book, POUNCE, which was released October 18, 2016.

Seth’s work has been published in National Geographic Magazine, The New York Times Magazine and in hundreds of other magazines, newspapers, and calendars. Seth has appeared on Good Morning America, NBC Nightly News with Brian Williams, The Today Show, CBS This Morning, Fox and Friends, The Meredith Vieria Show, NPR Morning Edition, The Insider and Inside Edition. Seth collaborated with TD Ameritrade in Cape Town, South Africa in creating television commercial showcasing his work. He has traveled the world in pursuit of his passion, working with animals on five continents. Seth's non-profit campaign, One Picture Saves a Life, inspires, empowers and educates animal ambassadors around the world to improve the image of rescue and adoption through positive photography. He is excited to bring his expertise in photography to Girls’ Voices, encouraging youth to capture moments of inspiration and resilience.