On October 11, the world will celebrate International Day of the Girl, honoring and recognizing girls’ rights and the unique challenges girls face around the world. At the heart of these challenges is access to education, so it is no surprise that the theme of this year’s Day is innovating girls for education, including engagement of young people themselves.
But education (and the end goal of empowerment) is about more than tools and resources. While access to formal education is an undeniably critical and transformative element in advancing opportunities for both girls and societies-at-large, true empowerment is as much about self-education and what happens within as it is about what happens without. Without an inner passion for learning and commitment to growth, access to even the best resources will not be enough to yield the results we are seeking. In this way, education and empowerment are integrally linked, and as we grow in both knowledge and belief in ourselves, our confidence, capacities and competencies to become leaders in our own lives increase immeasurably.
“When we truly know, honor, trust and act from our core selves; when we lead from within, we empower ourselves and others beyond measure.”
In the spring of 2013, my ten year old daughter and I each faced a significant challenge and setback that collectively provided rich fodder for introducing her to the subject of women’s empowerment and what it means to live one’s voice out loud. Poignant to me at the time was the realization that my young and impressionable daughter, who has at times struggled to exercise her own voice, was the same age I was when I first began to lose mine.
“Before we can be empowered to lead others and live our voice out loud, we must first feel worthy of being heard.”
In the wake of these challenges, we watched live streaming interviews with Sheryl Sandberg, talked about women’s suffrage, and explored how and why women and girls are still denied equal access to education, opportunity and/or pay. We talked at length about honoring ourselves, our voice and our talents, and finding the courage to stand up for ourselves and others, too. As I watched her study my face anxious to offer ideas to help, I soon realized that how I responded to my own challenge could profoundly impact, influence and shape how she would respond to her own.
I could choose to stand up (or sit on the bench). I could choose personal accountability (or view myself as a victim). I could exercise my voice (or remain silent). I could mindfully act, turning a challenge into an inspiring opportunity (or thoughtlessly react, while sucking on a bitter lemon).
The choice was mine. The impact was ours. And out of that moment the Global Girls Project was born.
About the Project:
Based on the United Nations Millennial Development Goal of promoting gender equality and women’s empowerment and sixteen defining principles of heart-aligned leadership, the Global Girls Project is a collaborative writing project that invites women from around the world to share their own story of empowerment and leadership.
The goal of this project is to create a collection of stories that not only inspire and uplift, but encourage and empower others to find their own voice, too, thereby passing on the legacy of leadership from one generation of women to the next.
Please join me in continuing the conversation and lend your support to the project!
Below is a list of ways to get involved:
- Subscribe and/or comment on one of the stories on the website
- Like or follow the Global Girls Project on Facebook
- Follow the Global Girls Project on Twitter
- Submit a guest post on the blog (women only)
- Provide a link back to the site in a blog post or on your web site
- Share this post with others who may be interested in participating in the project
Note: Proceeds from any future publication of stories submitted will be donated to select NGOs that support women and girls’ empowerment and leadership development.