My point of inflection came while traveling in Cambodia. While living in Tokyo (with my husband and seven children), I traveled with passionate co-adventurers and devoted NGO community members and witnessed – firsthand – the plight of young girls who are often denied education in favor of domestic or factory work. The image of young girls looking longingly in from outside the school gate was emblazoned in my thoughts and I knew that I had found a way to make a difference in the world. From then, I have devoted my energy, time, and resources to girls and championed their freedom to be the author of their own lives. I returned from Asia as a full-fledged ambassador for gender equality, and ...Global Girls Leading Our World (G.L.O.W.) was founded.
We began in 2011, with a mentorship and curriculum model to build self-esteem, leadership and resilience in girls from vulnerable communities. In 5 years, we have grown rapidly to meet the needs of girls and young women around the world. Today, Global G.L.O.W.’s programs ignite the power of girls in 25 countries across 5 continents through the HerStory Campaign, a joint initiative with our N.Y.- based nonprofit partner, LitWorld. I have witnessed astonishing changes in thousands of girls around the world as they become confident self-advocates and leaders who are emboldened to follow their dreams. Their stories light my path and fuel my drive to expand our work to promote an “upward spiral”, a beautiful image which depicts the way an empowered girl alters the trajectory of her own family which, in turn, transforms her community and ultimately, changes the world.
March 20-24, 2017 marks a milestone in Global G.L.O.W.’s work as we co-host the 2nd annual Global HerStory Summit, to be held in partnership with UN Women at the 61st Annual Commission on the Status of Women. At the Global HerStory Summit, we will bring 60 Youth Ambassadors from 12 countries together, at the United Nations in New York City, to represent their communities. Together, Youth Ambassadors will develop Community Action Projects to achieve the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDG’s) for education, gender equity and women’s empowerment. These goals impact poverty reduction, health improvement and economic growth, around the world. Each Ambassador will have the opportunity to present their action plan to an audience of UN officials and global leaders. Upon their return home, Youth Ambassadors will implement their Community Action Projects with the support of the HerStory Campaign, local leadership and our global partners. At this time next year, I look forward to sharing stories of success, growth and girls’ empowerment that arise from these global Community Action Projects.
I have seen, firsthand, the power of girls’ voices when they are educated and encouraged to share their stories. I have witnessed the profound impact a girl can make on her community. I have shared in the transformative moments that occur when a girl is mentored to become a leader. These moments define me, they inspire me and they light my path.
To attend or to support the HerStory Campaign and/or the Global HerStory Summit, please visit: http://globalgirlsglow.org/contact-us/.