FIRST THOUGHT: Empowering Girls to Become Strong Women
Whether you’re 7 or 70, we’re all just trying to carve out our own little spot in the world. We often hunt for the right group of friends, the right job, hey, even the right hairstyle.
Oftentimes, those feelings you had as a girl—of not fitting in and trying to be something you’re not—creep into adulthood. Today, don’t beat yourself up for a word misspoke or an idea that didn’t land. Accept yourself for who you are.
WOMEN IN NUMBERS: 65
When the world feels like an ugly place, sometimes all you need is a feel-good story. Syrian mothers asked the principal of an elementary school in Jordan if their daughters could attend the school, and you know what she said? Of course! The only stipulation: BYOC (bring your own chair). It’s been three years since the principal opened up the school’s doors, and they now teach 65 refugee girls.
Her generosity doesn’t stop there: The principal will place a glittery crown on each of her students’ heads, marking their success at adapting to their new school. It makes the girls feel like they truly belong. Time to let out a collective “Aww!”
WOMAN TO WATCH: Meredith Walker, Co-founder and Executive Director of Amy Poehler’s Smart Girls
Another woman who has a big heart for girls is Meredith Walker. Through the U.S. Department of State’s Empowering Women and Girls through Sports Initiative, Walker went to Jordan with American sports representatives to listen to the stories of Syrian refugee girls.
Her commitment to girls has been a mainstay in her fruitful career. She produced Linda Ellerbee’s Peabody Award-winning Nick News for Nickelodeon and later went on to lead the talent department at Saturday Night Live. That’s where Walker met her bestie, Amy Poehler.
Years later, they founded Amy Poehler’s Smart Girls, an unbelievably fantastic website devoted to sharing stories and videos for girls (and in my opinion, women too!). The organization’s motto is “Change the World by Being Yourself.”
When I was a kid, the articles written for girls usually focused on how to get clear skin or how to get your crush to notice you. Smart Girls gives girls real-world advice on the tough stuff, like Robin Browne’s staggering journey through stage 4 breast cancer, but also the fun stuff, like a video series called “Heavy Petting” that features adoptable pets with an eHarmony kind of twist.
You’ll often hear about Smart Girls hitting up the red carpet at popular award shows. In an initiative to move past “What are you wearing?” in favor of asking celebrities more meaningful queries, Twitter users submit questions using the hashtag #AskHerMore, and Smart Girls posts the celebrity responses. Women like Hillary Clinton and TV producer Shonda Rhimes have even suggested questions!
Walker knows each girl is distinctive in her own way, and that good content needs to reflect that. On a South By Southwest 2016 panel, she emphasized the need for thoughtful marketing toward girls in an authentic way. You see, girls are smarties and can sniff out an insincere article from a mile away.
Walker suggests businesses accomplish this by tossing out the traditional model of trying to improve girls. Instead, by focusing products and services on ways they can help girls stay true to themselves, companies will receive more positive results.
Walker’s advocacy shows us girls are more than Easy Bake Ovens and Barbies. She’s changing the world by being herself.
QUITE THE QUOTE
Sometimes, the best gift we can give is our time. Financial guru Suze Orman said:
“True generosity lies not in how much money you have, but whether the money you have coming in and going out passes through your heart back out into the world."That’s all for now. Be sure to share this so more women can have a voice! Thanks for getting ready with us.
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