In 2007, while volunteering for the education-based NGO World Assistance for Cambodia, Global G.L.O.W. founder Kylie Schuyler traveled to Phnom Penh to mark the opening of a new school. The folks who attended were patiently waiting for the city leaders to cut the ribbon to celebrate the opening of this school—the first school they would have since the Khmer Rouge destroyed them all nearly 40 years earlier. It was on this day while overlooking a throng of Cambodians in attendance, that Kylie spied a young girl.
The girl she saw had a bright, beautiful face and big expressive eyes. She was standing outside the school gates, clinging to the fence with her fingers laced through the wires and peering in longingly. Kylie knew that this young girl, whose name was Srelin, was not being brought into the school to be enrolled, and Kylie wondered if she ever would be. It was a moment of reflection as Kylie realized that the world would never see the boundless potential Srelin possessed if she was barred from education. Kylie knew in that moment that providing girls like Srelin the tools for self-empowerment was the way that her community, indeed our world, could change for the better.
Fast forward to 2012, Kylie founded Global G.L.O.W. with a mission to ignite the power of girls for global transformation. We are now an international nonprofit organization that creates and operates innovative out-of-school programs to mentor girls ages 10–18 to advocate for themselves and make their communities stronger. The evidence is overwhelming—when girls thrive, they start an upward spiral that changes societal perceptions and norms and breaks the shackles of poverty. This evidence fuels one of the central messages of our programming —girls know what girls need.
Currently, Global G.L.O.W. works with community partners on the ground and almost 12,000 girls annually in more than 27 countries, including the U.S. We work to accelerate girls’ greatness today so they can build a better tomorrow. Amongst those partners is World Assistance for Cambodia where over 400 girls like Srelin thrive in school through mentorship and support from other girls in their GLOW Clubs. Educating and empowering girls is the single best action we can take to bring about a just, equitable, and flourishing world for all. But in order to get to this state, we must first listen to girls and amplify their voices. Understanding the barriers that girls face—from their own perspectives—is vital for changing social norms. Only with this critical awareness can solutions be envisioned and actions taken to eliminate the barriers to girls’ empowerment.