March marks an important month for us at Global G.L.O.W. as we commence our celebration of mentors and extend our appreciation to all mentors for the work that they do to be pillars of inspiration, confidence, and support in young girls’ lives. In addition, March also marks our annual participation in the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women (CSW), where we work alongside ally organizations to make sure girls’ voices are heard and included at the policy level. Many Global G.L.O.W. club partners worldwide hosted local girl-led Conversation Circles in the lead up to a global conversation circle hosted by NGO CSW and the Working Group on Girls. Some club members participated in Girls’ Statement Writing to present to the Commission. And for Global G.L.O.W.’s annual NGO CSW parallel event, club members and mentors from Cambodia, Ghana, Kenya, and Rwanda discussed The Power of Mentorship with Girls in Achieving Gender Equality as designated Delegates for CSW65.
Mentorship is the heart of Global G.L.O.W.’s work and one of our core values because of its immense power as a source of transformative change for girls and their shared communities. According to the National Mentoring Partnership, youth with a mentor are 130% more likely to hold leadership positions. Research shows that through mentoring relationships, mentees gain confidence, self-advocacy skills, and reduce the education achievement gap and that mentorship shows mentees that the community is invested in their futures.
The Power of Mentorship with Girls in Achieving Gender Equality focused on the empowerment of all women and girls, and how women-led, locally-run mentorship programs contribute to a better future for girls. The panel discussion included one club member and one mentor from four of our club partner locations around the world. The event centered girls’ personal feedback on how their Global G.L.O.W. mentors have added value to their lives and instilled hope for their futures despite the barriers they may face. We also heard from the club mentors themselves about how mentoring young people changed their lives too.
Sharon, from Kenya and Rita, from Ghana specifically pointed out that their mentor influenced their personal worldview and informed their realization that girls can do anything boys can do. This essential shift in belief systems is key to achieving gender equality and pushing past the unique challenges that affect girls, like child marriage. Rita highlighted the importance of a safe space, another essential element of our clubs- a space where she can express herself without fear. Here are the exact quotes they shared in the panel discussion:
“Many girls in my community could not dream because of cultural practices like early marriage. Mentorship helps improve the lives of girls by helping them have a dream and achieve the dream … I now believe I can do what boys can do.” – Sharon, club member, Kenya (AIC)
“I have learned that I am not just a girl but that I can make a difference like any male in the society. Global G.L.O.W. creates a space for me where I am able to express myself freely without any fear.” – Rita, club member, Ghana (The League)
Sopheap, from Cambodia beautifully conveyed the courage she and her fellow peers have adopted as a result of their mentor’s influence. The type of courage that resonates in all aspects of how girls live their lives– their relationships, their goals for the future and their love for each other:
“I have observed that girls improve — such as the transformation from a girl who is not brave to a girl who is full of courage, has more strength in life, reduce[s] shyness, set[s] a clear goal for the future, [is] able to communicate well, be kind to each other … and know[s] how to love and treat each other as sisters.” –Sopheap, club member, Cambodia (WAFC)
And Gertrude, in Rwanda, expressed the many ways her mentor helps her grow.
“Having a mentor also means to have someone who encourages me, a good leader, someone who helps me to understand many things and someone who builds my capacity.” Gertrude, club member, Rwanda (Ready for Reading)
What qualities in a mentor are necessary to overcome the cultural hurdles placed on gender? There are many qualities necessary, but perhaps the most important is the belief that girls are capable of achieving their dreams regardless of the barriers they face. “As a mentor, my wish is for girls to build a very strong will power, embrace their femininity, recognize their self worth, develop self love, find their voice, and compete fearlessly in their community and the world at large.” Rita, club mentor from Ghana says in the panel.
As you can see from these girls’ own words, mentorship is an essential tool to achieve gender equality. Mentorship provides the lift girls need to overcome cultural and socio-economic barriers. An encouraging mentor gives a girl the ability to dream and to believe she is capable of achieving her goals. A strong mentor gives girls the bravery to push themselves, and to hold themselves as equal to boys and men.
Mentorship is a necessary and important key to realizing our vision- a world where girls thrive.
Watch the playback of this very special event: