Author: Lisa Anderson, Director of Strategic Partnerships, Women Moving Millions
Every girl has a story. She grows stronger and the world conversation becomes richer when she tells it, as the first Global HerStory Summit vividly illustrated.
There was Yasmina, a slender young woman from Nepal, who boldly told a packed auditorium, “No one has the right to think that a woman’s tears are her weakness. They are her strongness.”
There was also Candice, a teenager from Detroit, who said she hoped women around the world would realize that “we are just as much a part of the world as men.”
“I want to live to tell my story. I want to live in all my glory,” Yasmina, Candice and dozens more sang out with conviction as the summit got underway.
One of the most moving side events during the United Nation’s recent Commission on the Status of Women in New York, the HerStory Summit celebrated the power of storytelling as a tool for improving literacy and emboldening girls to believe in themselves and their ability to achieve their full potential.
The event, which involved over 90 girls and 49 of their mentors from 10 countries, drew a standing-room only audience of over 300 people in a midtown auditorium. The program was presented by three HerStory partners: NEWI, a Kenyan educational initiative for girls; LitWorld, a New York-based global literacy advocacy organization for girls, and Global G.L.O.W., a global literacy and mentorship program for girls ages 10 to 16, based in California.
Women Moving Millions member Kylie Schuyler, a former bond trader who has a doctorate in Clinical Psychology, founded Global G.L.O.W. as a 501(C) 3 nonprofit organization in 2011 and is its Executive Director.
Kylie’s philanthropic journey toward creating Global G.L.O.W. began 10 years ago when she was building rural schools with World Assistance for Cambodia. Although she helped build some 600 schools, Schuyler realized that families were sending only boys to attend. The girls did not show up.
“That was my first wake-up call about gender disparity,” Kylie said, adding that she found her calling in working to change that inequality.
Through her work with World Assistance Cambodia and its offshoot program Girls Be Ambitious, Schuyler knew that education and literacy are key to empowering girls in vulnerable communities. The facts are clear and well documented. Girls who complete primary and secondary school are more likely to:
- Earn greater income
- Marry later
- Have fewer unwanted pregnancies
- Have fewer and healthier children
- Be better able to lift their families out of poverty and educate their own children
- Global G.L.O.W., an acronym for Girls Leading Our World, operates a G.L.O.W. House in Santa Ana, California.
There, girls can find a safe space to tell their stories and improve their literacy and creative expression skills as well as work with mentors to enhance confidence, self-esteem and resilience.
In addition, through its many partners, Global G.L.O.W. works in 26 countries and serves over 10,000 girls around the world annually. The result can be seen in girls like Yasmina, the teenager from Nepal.
“My wish is for women and girls is to be empowered not by others, but by themselves,” she said. Her advice to women and girls: “If they don’t give the power to us, snatch it,” said Yasmina.