Is there anything stronger than a circle of fierce female friends? It’s a question my own circle of fierce female friends debate whenever we’re all together. There’s six of us in this friendship circle, and it dates back to 1999 when we found ourselves all at the same junior high together. That means, we’ve experienced the highs and lows of highschool, college successes, moves out of state, career changes, weddings, and early stages of motherhood together (well, for most. For now, I’m sticking to my fur babies!). Now, we’re a circle of CEOs, doctors, school psychologists, teachers, clinicians, and marketing gurus. And we’ve strengthened and supported each other through it all.

With nearly two decades of friendship behind us, I think now about not if there’s something stronger than female friendships, but what makes them so strong? For my circle, it’s a pretty simple formula. It’s not about acting, looking, and dressing the same (although we may have thought so back in junior high!). It’s not even about sharing the same religious beliefs, career paths, and life goals. It’s really just about embracing each other’s differences, staying in our own lanes as we cheer each other on from the sidelines, and before you know it, growing up together.

Another key part of the formula that made our friendship so strong was school. It was something I took for granted when I was younger, that school life is really what brought us together to begin with. It’s also what helped create the binding force that keeps us together. Maybe if I didn’t have parents who were college graduates themselves and instilled the value of education in me or lived in a community that allowed girls to attend school, I wouldn’t have had the opportunity to find and keep these friends. School is so much more than book reports and tests, it’s an opportunity to build meaningful human connections and create lifelong friendships. It’s an opportunity that Global G.L.O.W. is working hard to ensure girls across our shared world have. Through our programs, girls are given safe spaces to build friendships in, and mentors to help develop those critical human connections. And through our work, we’re chipping away at the barriers girls face that may prevent them from staying in school. Because after all, doesn’t every girl deserve a circle of fierce female friends of their own?