International Women’s Day: Melissa Kilby

What’s your greatest accomplishment?

My greatest accomplishment has probably been the last year of my life. Going back to work last February after giving birth to my first child, a daughter, I was definitely ready to get back into the fight for gender equality. Figuring out how to be a mom while at the same time experiencing the most exciting, biggest and fastest growing year ever for Girl Up has been no small feat, and just being on the other side of that year, still standing, with Arya thriving and Girl Up thriving – that I am very proud of! Trying to find a new normal is challenging. Knowing that every single success at work is step towards a more equal world for my daughter to grow up into makes that challenge worth fighting and the wins, big and small, add up to a year of accomplishments.

Why are you proud to be a woman today?

I am proud to be a woman today because I am proud to be a part of this time, this movement – our movement for gender equality. From teenage girls, to Hollywood and the boardroom, women across the U.S. and around the world are standing up for themselves and for each other. I am proud to play a role in this new push for equality and this movement of “calling out” the injustices around us. I hope that I can inspire our newest generation of leaders to push where we haven’t yet and to never back down, for themselves, for each other and for me!

What advice do you have for your younger self?

Know your strengths and own them. I was a bossy little girl. I was a leader from day one. It wasn’t always easy and I got picked on a lot for my personality, but it’s those exact traits that got me to where I am today. I would tell my younger self to be proud of my confidence, to be bold – that my persistence will be my greatest professional trait. I would also tell myself to let go of my insecurities – not everyone is going to like you, not everyone is going to agree with you – and that’s okay. I probably still need to remind my adult-self of this one. Keep trusting your gut, because when you do, you get where you are supposed to be and when you don’t, that’s when you stumble.


Melissa Kilby is the Co-Executive Director of Girl Up— a leadership development organization working to achieve gender equality for every girl, everywhere. Melissa co-leads this initiative, hosted at the UN Foundation, that inspires, convenes, trains and connects girls globally, helping to position them as leaders and changemakers. Growing up she was always called a bossy girl and today she is a proud #girlboss!