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Strong Women Building Strong Girls

Recently, I've been thinking more and more about the considerable work that still needs to be done in the fight for women's equality.

On February 7th, we launched ‘100 Goodnight Stories for Rebel Girls’ from the brilliant Timbuktu Labs. As the title suggests, the book dispatches with the tired princess in a castle fairy tale and instead tells the stories of 100 real women whose tales have been even more fantastic–who didn’t need knights in shining armor to make them happen.

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That afternoon, a video message from Hillary Clinton produced by MAKERS, the storytelling platform for women by women, hit my Twitter feed. She encouraged her audience to ‘dare greatly and lead boldly.’ It was Clinton’s first real public appearance since the election and an echo of her message to the nation’s female youth during her concession.

“To all the little girls who are watching this, never doubt that you are valuable and powerful and deserving of every chance and opportunity in the world to pursue and achieve your own dreams."

The evening of February 7th, the Senate silenced Elizabeth Warren for “persisting” in doing her job. She was reading a letter. Fellow senators–who happened to be male – later read that letter verbatim without reproach. The juxtaposition between the messages of hope for the future and the realities currently faced by women who “persist" couldn't be more striking.

While The Grommet, the brainchild of two women, trades in physical products, we are fundamentally a digital platform, operate in the tech ecosystem and pay close attention to the majority male landscape in which we play.

Housewarming

On February 19th, Susan J. Fowler’s exposé on her experience as an Uber engineer popped up on my Medium page. I read it instantly. Fowler painfully highlights the deep disconnects in Silicon Valley. It was disheartening to read. That nothing about it was shocking or even particularly surprising made it all the more disheartening.

These headlines–pulled from two random days in February–show women still have much work to do in achieving equality with our current generation of leadership. That work includes considering how these headlines are impacting today’s girls and what we can do now to better equip them to navigate the world they might find when they come of age.

Research has shown gender stereotypes begin negatively affecting the career ambitions and self-confidence of girls as young as six years old. It's never too early to begin the serious business of taking yourself and your own value seriously.

This past Sunday, March 5th, we featured Strong Women, Strong Girls, an organization championing young girls so they may realize their value and carry the confidence to help shape the world. It’s an organization we’re proud to support this month, Women’s History Month.

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Launched as a student group at Harvard in 2000 by Lindsay Hyde, SWSG works to counter the social pressures discouraging young girls by increasing their self-confidence, building strong leadership skills, and providing a safe community.

College women teach these young girls a curriculum spanning from the study of contemporary and historic female role models to skill-building activities and fostering strong mentor and peer relationships.

Professional women from the private sector and public office serve as site monitors and event volunteers. They're the mentors for the college mentors completing the virtuous cycle of encouragement strengthening future generations of society.

From its initial roots as a student project, SWSG was formally incorporated as a 501(c)3 in Boston, MA in 2004. The organization has since opened an expansion office in Pittsburgh, PA and sparked pilot programs at over 100 school and community centers.

Girls who were once participants in the program as elementary school students have now grown to serve as mentors for the same communities that served them. They have become the strong women the founders hoped to encourage. The cycle continues to churn.

At the core of SWSG’s curriculum is removing the fear of failure. Such fearlessness emboldened Lindsay and her six co-mentors to start a student group back in 2000. Such fearlessness further encouraged them to take themselves seriously enough to incorporate as a formal nonprofit in 2004.

Such fearlessness drove Hillary Clinton to be the first female presidential nominee.

Such fearlessness spurred the achievements of the 100 Rebel Girls, the hundreds more that will follow, and the female duo behind Timbuktu Labs itself.

Today, such fearlessness is emboldening women globally to stand up for their rights, respect, independence, and the opportunities they've earned and still seek.

May these messages be heard widely and loudly–by those adults in power today, yes, but more vitally by the kids preparing to assume leadership tomorrow. May they all inherently know they are valuable, powerful, and deserving of the chance to take the world by storm. This isn’t revolutionary. This is fundamental.

Comments

  • Najla Mchale Says:

    Great article! So incredibly important given the emotional and psychological suffering of girls today, very often leading to years of loss and grief on many levels. I'm looking for ways to get my own daughter's attention and involvement, as well as writing about grief, loss, self worth, male influence and it's effect on my academic, career and personal life choices! And how to turn it around perceptually...I hope to have a book to use as a teaching tool to demonstrate exactly what this research says and how to foster this confidence through nurturing within SCHOOLS AND COMMUNITIES. It's more than a women's issue. It's a global issue. It's my belief that women carry this planet. When we fail, Earth fails. It begins there.just thought I'd share.
    Thanks

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