Girls Run the World
by Yumi Numata
YouthREX Communications and Knowledge Mobilization Manager
This month's eXchange theme is Girls Run the World - partly inspired by Beyoncé, because, of course, but also by a few other important things specific to this month!
On December 6, we recognized the National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence against Women in Canada, which serves as a reminder of how important it is to create safe spaces for women and girls by providing access to resources, support, leadership development opportunities and mentorship.
As the Girls Action Foundation toolkit states, “Girls experience a number of challenges as they grow up, including a range of exposure to violence, declining self-confidence, and other issues related to mental and emotional wellbeing. Girls who experience marginalization, such as related to their race, sexuality, ethnicity, citizenship, socio-economic status, or disability, are often more affected.”
One of the ways to mitigate these intersectional challenges is to provide leadership development opportunities of young women. One of the featured resources we’ve highlighted this month in our eXchange newsletter, the Round-Up #9 and homepage is this report created by CARE, The Power to Lead: A Leadership Model for Adolescent Girls. In this report, a ‘girl leader’ is defined as follows:
“A girl leader is an active learner who believes that she can make a difference in her world, and acts individually and with others to bring about positive change.”
This leads us to the Beyoncé inspiration for this month’s eXchange theme. In this recent eXchange Youth Perspectives blog, Maria Gabriela Umana-Peraza, a NOISE Youth Fellow alumnae and current YouthREX co-op student shares how her NOISE experience helped her develop these qualities of a girl leader that CARE talks about. NOISE is YouthREX’s collaborative innovation space that brings together youth and Social Work students to research community issues and take social action together. In this blog, Maria discusses the impact of her NOISE experience and how mutual love for Beyoncé led to bonding and a solid mentoring foundation among NOISE participants.
“Leadership roles are defined and facilitated by expectations of others. Youths, specifically girls, may not see themselves in a leadership role because their society does not consider them potential leaders. Girls’ leadership models must overcome this barrier and encourage the inclusion of leadership in girlhood. This cannot happen without a critical mass of supportive mentors and champions for girls." – CARE report
Community-level responses for youth leadership development opportunities, and girl-specific opportunities can be transformative for young women. Here at YouthREX, we're especially inspired by one of our Customized Evaluation Supports initiatives, Community Academic Reciprocal Engagement (CARE) that embodies this community-level response. CARE is a program that seeks to inspire Black middle-schoool girls, many of whom are also newcomer youth, through an after school arts-based program that has a social justice aim.
According to founder Funke Oba, the goal of CARE is "to demystify post-secondary education, increase possibilities, and inspire hopes and dreams for these girls who have just been ignored by society.”
To learn more about how you can support girls to deal with challenges, create change in their own lives, and ultimately, run the world – just like Beyoncé, we encourage you to check out the resources featured here and on the eXchange homepage.
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