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The Star Wars franchise has a proud history of featuring strong female characters. Princess Leia takes charge of her own rescue from the Death Star in A New Hope, Padmé Amidala stoically defends her homeworld in The Phantom Menace, Ahsoka Tano confronts her Master-turned-Sith-Lord Darth Vader in Star Wars Rebels, Rey defeats the evil Kylo Ren in a lightsaber duel in Star Wars: The Force Awakens, and newcomer Jyn Erso leads a mission to steal the Death Star plans in the upcoming movie, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story.

These iconic characters continue to inspire and empower today’s generation of young women and girls to be independent and resolute in the face of an increasingly complex world.

On May 18th, 2016, the National Center for Women & Information Technology (NCWIT) honored the character of Rey, played by Daisy Ridley in Star Wars: The Force Awakens, for a fictional portrayal of a woman in tech and for the ability of the character to influence perceptions of women in tech. Lucasfilm President Kathleen Kennedy and Daisy Ridley graciously accepted the award for their contributions in creating one of Star Wars’ newest, empowering heroines.

On October 20, 2016, Star Wars will be represented on a panel at the Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing (GHC16). Rachel Rose, Senior R&D Engineer at Industrial Light & Magic, will be highlighting the creation of Maz Kanata in Star Wars: The Force Awakens. Rose combined the performance of Lupita Nyong’o with digital technology and art to create the endearing and wise “smuggler queen” of Takodana. She will be joined by three other technical leaders from Pixar, DreamWorks, and Walt Disney Animation Studios. Learn more about the panel here.

Lucasfilm and Star Wars: Force for Change recognize the International Day of the Girl as an important acknowledgement of the strong, intelligent, determined and compassionate women who continue to inspire us.

Happy International Day of the Girl!