Empowering Girls

Ten Ways to Help Girls in 2020

 

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Here are ten ways we can help girls in the New Year.

  1. Be a role model. Insist that women be promoted into positions of power. If you are an employer, make sure women have access to the same opportunities as men.
  2. Volunteer at a non-profit that helps girls. Ophelia’s Place, Girl Scouts, National Girls Collaborative, and Girls Who Code all accept volunteers.
  3. Listen when girls talk. “We live in a world that historically celebrates and elevates experiences and processes that relate to men—while undermining and shaming those that do not.” – 2020forgirls.
  4. Stand up for girls. Challenge sexism when you encounter it. Call out degrading comments when you hear them. Don’t just let them slide.
  5. Get the global perspective. Learn what other countries are doing to help empower girls. Girl Rising, Global Girls Glow, The Malala Fund, and Campaign for Female Education help girls around the world.
  6. Share your stories. Stories are how we connect and learn. Letting a girl know that you, too, struggled with something can help her persevere when things get difficult.
  7. Support girls-only spaces. Without gender-based competition, girls are allowed to be center stage.
  8. Choose kindness. Tell your daughter, niece, sister, or mother how much you appreciate them.
  9. Encourage girls to take risks and make mistakes. When girls have the same opportunities as boys to explore, get messy, and experiment, they grow stronger and more confident. They are far more likely to think for themselves instead of accepting someone else’s opinion.
  10. Let girls be girls! Girls have their own way of approaching problems, communicating, and learning. Celebrate their unique abilities and intelligence. “Like a girl” should not be an insult!

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Empowering Girls, Our mission

VALUES

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Every teen girl needs encouragement to take on new challenges, handle stress, set goals, and develop a healthy sense of self.

At Girls’ Voices Matter, we celebrate and respect teen girls. We understand their need for acceptance and their growing independence. Our core values reflect our beliefs in the potential of every girl:

  • Teamwork. Each girl is a valued part of a creative team.
  • Trust. Our students learn to trust themselves and their intuitions.
  • Courage. We create a safe space for our students to explore what interests them.
  • Creativity. We believe that every girl has talent.
  • It’s ok to make mistakes. Mistakes are how we learn, grow, and discover new things.

Our list of core values reflects our mottos: “Every girl matters” and “We believe in girls.” We truly believe that the creative potential of teen girls is a major force for good in the world.

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Empowering Girls, Our mission

Raise Your Hand

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Photo from Freepik

When 10-year-old Alice Paul Tapper noticed that girls in her classroom were raising their hands with less confidence than the boys, she decided to do something about it. Working with her mother and the head of her local Girl Scouts chapter, she created the RAISE YOUR HAND patch. Soon after, The New York Times invited Alice to write an op-ed for the newspaper. “I’m 10. And I Want girls to Raise Their Hands” appeared in the October 31, 2017 issue. Alice also published a picture book called Raise Your Hand, which came out in March 2019.

Reading Alice’s op-ed brought back uncomfortable memories of my own school days. I was a good student and I loved learning, but even though I raised my hand over and over, teachers seldom called on me. This pattern continued throughout high school and college, and it didn’t matter whether the teachers were male or female. They all called on male students more frequently than female ones.

As Alice writes, “I also think [girls] were being quiet because the boys already had the teacher’s attention, and they worried they might not be able to get it.” Girls who watch this happening in their classrooms conclude that different rules exist for them. They receive the message that when they finally get called on in the classroom, they must answer the question perfectly.

In their ground-breaking book, Failing at Fairness: How Schools Cheat Our Girls,Myra and David Sadker write “Sitting in the same classrooms, reading the same textbook, listening to the same teacher, boys and girls receive very different educations. Teachers interact with males more frequently, ask them better questions, and give them more precise and helpful feedback. Girls are the majority of our nation’s schoolchildren, yet they are second-class educational citizens.”

“People say girls have to be 90 percent confident before we raise our hands, but boys just raise their hands,” Alice wrote in her op-ed. “I tell girls that we should take the risk and try anyway, just like the boys do. If the answer is wrong, it’s not the end of the world.” That’s only half the problem, though. Teachers need to make sure they call on girls as often as boys. Once when I was observing a 4th-grade classroom, the teacher said, “I notice that my girls aren’t raising their hands much today.” Instead of just calling on the students – mostly boys – who didraise their hands, she identified the problem and encouraged the girls to participate.

An often-repeated phrase, “We cannot succeed when half of us are held back,” applies directly to the problem of girls’ lack of confidence in school. Girls must be heard, valued, and encouraged. Bravo to Alice Paul Tapper for correctly identifying the problem, and for reminding girls to raise their hands.

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Empowering Girls

Stronger Than You Know: Ophelia’s Place’s 2019 Conference

Photo on 3-13-19 at 11.41 AM 2On February 15, I attended “Stronger Than You Know,” the annual conference organized by Ophelia’s Place. The theme was “Relationships: With Peers, Self, and Community.” The keynote speaker, Rosalind Wiseman, wrote Queen Bees and Wannabes, the classic book about girls’ puberty, and the inspiration for the movie Mean Girls. The conference took place in Eugene, Oregon.

Adolescence has never been easy, but today’s teen girls face a world filled with new and often dangerous realities. Consider these statistics:

  • 46% more 15-19 year-olds committed suicide in 2015 than in 2007.
  • 56% more teens experienced a major depressive episode in 2015 than 2010.
  • 1 in 4 17-19 year-old-girls has an emotional disorder.
  • 93% of boys and 62% of girls are exposed to porn during early adolescence.
  • Exposure to social media leads teens to compare themselves to unrealistic standards.

Today’s girls have opportunities their grandmothers could hardly have dreamed of. At the same time, they face pressures unknown until just a few years ago: cyber-bullying, sexting, and what Wiseman called “the invisible audience” of social media: always present, always judging, never satisfied.

Many things stood out for me during the conference. In Ophelia’s Place’s Training & Education Coordinator Kyra Kelly’s presentation, “Supporting Youth in Developing Positive Friendships and Romantic Relationships,” she discussed the lack of understanding of the word “consent:” too often, boys do not comprehend – or pretend not to comprehend – its meaning. Oregon Center for Educational Equity’s Elaine L. Rector’s presentation, “Micro-aggressions and Their Impact,” highlighted the effects of the “covert, contemporary sexism pervasive throughout day to day encounters.”

River Aaland, Ophelia’s Place’s After & Out of School Program Director,  conducted the presentation “Promoting Youth Empowerment,” which included several teen girls as part of the panel. The discussion revolved around issues of access, self-esteem, and girls’ hopes and dreams for the future. We also spoke about how adults can help teens, and the presentation’s handout included helpful suggestions such as “Focus on self-compassion (not self-esteem),” “Avoid social comparison,” and “Capitalize on specific skills.”

Ophelia’s Place is a prevention-based nonprofit dedicated to helping youth make healthy life choices through empowerment, education, and support. From Teri Conklin, OP’s Communications Coordinator:

“Ophelia’s Place has learned that it takes a holistic approach to give kids the support they need to feel empowered to make healthy decisions as they grow up, like building healthy relationships. That means if educators, parents, and youth all work from the same messaging and use the same tools, there’s a greater chance our kids will be better prepared to navigate challenges while they grow up. The conference is our way to reach educators and other youth-serving professionals with those tools.”

At Ophelia’s Place, girls can participate in programs such as Girls Empowerment Group, Young, Amazing Women of Color Group (YAWOC), and others such as the after-school drop-in program, therapy and leadership opportunities.
IMG_2686I returned from the conference with a signed copy of Rosalind Wiseman’s Queen Bees and Wannabes,lots of great information, and a renewed commitment to my goal of empowering teen girls. I highly recommend the conference and plan to attend next year.

Ophelia’s Place, a community for girls, has three locations: 1577 Pearl Street Ste. 100, Eugene, OR 97401, 1497 Kalmia Street, Junction City, OR 97448, and P.O. Box 113, Albany, OR 97321.

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Empowering Girls

Changing How We Speak to Girls

adult-businesswoman-company-325924“8 Ways to Encourage Girls to use Use Their Voices” by Allison Riley, from Girls on the Run, describes how important it is for adults to change how they speak to girls. I especially liked #1. Ask her, #2. Teach her that her voice matters, and #8. Encourage her to think critically when she sees conflicting messages. 

These are simple ways adults can help girls feel strong, valued, and empowered. Girls need to know that their voices are important, and unfortunately, they receive the opposite message every day. Consider this list from an article by Grace Weaver (also at Girls on the Run:)

Girls like pink.

Girls wear frilly headbands and bows.

Girls assume the role of a damsel in distress, not a superhero.

Girls are not messy.

Girls should be quiet.

Girls play inside with dollhouses, not outside with skateboards.

Girls like to look pretty.

Girls aren’t as tough as boys.

Girls like to read and do crafts.

Girls don’t need wilderness or survival skills.

Girls should be careful that their clothes don’t distract boys.

Girls are vulnerable targets.

When girls have the same opportunities as boys to explore, get messy, and experiment, they grow stronger and more confident. They become more self-reliant and daring. They are far more likely to think for themselves instead of accepting someone else’s opinion. These are the skills they need to succeed in life.

 

Announcements, Empowering Girls, Women in Film

Visionaries: Female Filmmakers 1910-Today

Screen Shot 2019-01-28 at 2.50.36 PMI’m happy to share Visionaries: Female Filmmakers 1910-Today. Girls’ Voices Matter staff member Kacie Clark researched and wrote this compelling and interesting account of eight important women in film. From Alice Guy Lache, born in 1873, who started her own film company in 1910, to Best Picture winner, director Katherine Bigelow (The Hurt Locker, Zero Dark Thirty) these women have broken barriers and created some of the most memorable work in film today. We hope this document will inspire you!

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Empowering Girls, Our mission

OUR STORY

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Girls’ Voices Matter is the daughter of Media Poetry Studio, an arts-based educational program for teen girls that started in 2014. Here’s the story of how Media Poetry Studio came to be:

In the Spring of 2014, California Bay Area Poets Laureate Erica Goss, Jennifer Swanton Brown and David Perez had an epiphany while discussing their plans as community poets. We wanted to reach out to young people, to involve them in creative writing, and make opportunities for them in the literary arts. Over several discussions, we developed a two-week summer camp for teen girls, one where they learned how to make short films based on their own poems. We called it Media Poetry Studio, and our students’ work can be viewed here.

In 2017, Erica moved to Eugene, Oregon, and began Digital Storytelling of the Pacific Northwest, which changed its name to Girls’ Voices Matter in 2018. We offer a summer camp and workshops throughout the school year.

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Empowering Girls

If You Give a Girl a Camera

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I’ve always loved the book If You Give a Mouse a Cookie, which I read to my children when they were little. In the book, a boy gives a delicious chocolate chip cookie to a mouse. The mouse loves the cookie, which leads him to ask for things to go with it: a glass of milk, a straw to drink the milk with, a mirror to see if he has a milk moustache, etc. Soon the mouse is asking for a story, a nap, and eventually, another cookie.

When I discovered video poetry in 2012, I was just like the mouse: my curiosity led me in a number of directions. First I watched hundreds of videos. Soon I reached out to video artists, interviewing them for my column The Third Form. A year or so later, I began to experiment with making my own video poems, and soon after, ran Media Poetry Studio, a summer camp dedicated to teaching the art to teen girls. Now that I live in Eugene, Oregon, I’ve created Girls Voices Matter, a summer program dedicated to teaching teen girls how to make their own short videos.

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My “cookie” was a chance encounter at a writers’ conference in the winter of 2012. I wandered into a conference titled “Poetry Video in the Shadow of Music Video – Performance, Document, and Film.” When I entered Boulevard Room A at the Chicago Hilton and took a seat at the back of the room, I had no idea that my life would change. Now video-making is an important and growing part of my artistic practice.

 

If you give a girl a camera, what will she do next? Imagine the possibilities!

Download 5 Ways Storytelling Empowers Teen Girls.