Empowering Girls, Our mission

The Power of Teen Girls

The Power of Teen Girls

Malala Yousafzai survived a 2012 school bus attack and went on to become the youngest person to receive a Nobel Peace Prize.

Greta Thunberg skipped school to increase awareness about global warming. She was honored as Time Magazine’s 2019 Person of the Year.

Emma Gonzalez survived the shooting in Parkland, Florida. Due to pressure from Emma and her fellow students, Florida passed a bill titled the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Act.

These are just three of the more well-known teen activists who’ve gone beyond the call of duty to make our world a better place. But have you heard of Angelina Lue, Zee Thomas, or Tiana Day?

Angelina, Zee, and Tiana

Angelina, of Los Altos, CA, started Teens Fighting Covid-19, a GoFundMe campaign designed to help address the shortage of personal protective equipment (PPE). As of this writing, her campaign has donated 25,000 surgical masks and 200 N95’s to more than seventeen hospitals and health care centers in the Bay Area, NYC, the Bronx, and the Navajo Nation.

Zee Thomas, a 15-year-old from Nashville, organized a march in her city to protest the killing of George Floyd by a Minneapolis police officer. Zee had never been to a protest before, but 10,000 people joined her.

Tiana Day of San Ramon, CA, led a protest march across the Golden Gate Bridge earlier in June. She thought maybe fifty people would show up. Thousands came. In an article in the New York Times, Tiana said, “I have always had this, like, boiling thing, this boiling passion in my body to want to make a change in the world.”

In the same article, the reporter, Jessica Bennett, posed a question to another teen, Shayla Turner. “Why do you think we are seeing so many young women leading?”

Shayla, who has been campaigning to remove the police from Chicago’s public schools, answered:

“I want to see an entire revolution led by youth. We have the power, and we have the voices.”

A Few More

There are so many examples of the power of teen girls to affect positive change in the world. A few more:

Trisha Prabhu, who, at 15, created ReThink, a patented technology and an effective way to detect and stop online hate.”

Jamie Margolin, who, “frustrated by the fact that youth voices were almost always ignored in the conversation around climate change and the profound impact that it would have on young people,” started Zero Hour, a national day of mass action, led by youth.

At the end of the New York Times article, Zee stated: “my main goal, as a person and as an upcoming activist, is to make sure that people know that things will change. Eventually.”

Download 5 Ways Storytelling Empowers Teen Girls.

Announcements, FAQs, Our mission

Blog Feature at Miss Independent!


It’s an honor to be the blog feature at  Miss Independent! Read about the origins of Girls’ Voices Matter, why the program is just for girls, and how we can address the lack of women all aspects of film, from directing to acting to cinematography.

Much more at Miss Independent

While you’re there, read about the many inspirational women profiled at the site. I especially enjoyed this poignant account of the author’s visit to The House of Anne Frank in Amsterdam. 

Thank you to Bridget Gorham, aka Miss Independent, for featuring Girls’ Voices Matter.

Download 5 Ways Storytelling Empowers Teen Girls.

Empowering Girls, Our mission



At Girls’ Voices Matter, our core values reflect our beliefs in the potential of every girl. We celebrate and respect teen girls. We understand their need for acceptance and their growing independence. Every teen girl needs encouragement to take on new challenges, handle stress, set goals, and develop a healthy sense of self.


  • 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.

Download 5 Ways Storytelling Empowers Teen Girls.

encouraging girls to raise their hands
Empowering Girls, Our mission

Encouraging Girls to Raise Their Hands


Photo from Freepik

Alice Paul Tapper: Encouraging girls to raise their hands

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.

Why girls stop raising their hands

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. 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.

Girls are “second-class educational citizens”

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.

The solution: encouraging and valuing girls

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 encouraging girls to raise their hands.

Download 5 Ways Storytelling Empowers Teen Girls.

Empowering Girls, Our mission


Girl making a picture with an old camera

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.

Download 5 Ways Storytelling Empowers Teen Girls.

Empowering Girls, Our mission

A Supportive Community For Girls


At Girls’ Voices Matter, we believe in girls: their potential, their intelligence, and their creativity. We believe that giving a girl the tools to express herself is one of the most powerful things anyone can do.

Girls aged 11-17 are particularly vulnerable. Messages leap out at them everywhere, telling them how to look, how to think, and how to be. At Girls’ Voices Matter, we give the tools of image-making to girls, allowing them to tell us how they think and feel. This act of expression empowers girls in so many ways.

As an educator, I’ve worked with teen girls for many years. I’ve listened to them tell me about their lives, their stresses, the expectations placed on them, and their plans for the future. The passion of these girls to make the world a better place never ceases to impress me.

Our goal is to foster a supportive community for girls. We listen to them. We help them access their creativity. These are our future teachers, doctors, poets, and filmmakers. What are their dreams, hopes, fears and ambitions? How do they see the world?

Our mission is to help girls answer those questions for themselves.

Download 5 Ways Storytelling Empowers Teen Girls.