Empowering girls

Inspiring Girls to be Amazing: Circles of Care-Circles of Courage

Each Thursday night, Jennifer, a Malahat Nation Elder, has an important job to do. As a facilitator of the Circles of Care-Circles of Courage girls’ group, she’s in charge of the carpool.

Before each session, she makes the drive to pick up girls from her community and the neighbouring Cowichan Nation. When the program first launched in 2016, the girls didn’t say much during carpool. Now, when they see Jennifer’s car pull up, they come bounding out of their homes, full of excitement. The girls’ group has become one of the best parts of their week.

Lending a Hand and Making a Difference

Research shows that girls as young as 6 have gendered ideas about intelligence, and who is best suited to careers in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math).

TechGyrls is a program that gives girls ages 9 to 13 the opportunity to explore, create, design, and share in all things STEM.  Funded by the Canadian Women’s Foundation’s Girls’ Fund, this YWCA Cambridge program is empowering girls to engage in STEM when society tells them they can’t.

The program doesn’t have a curriculum. Instead it’s led by the girls’ interests and ideas, making each program as unique as the girls who participate. Naturally, when the program received funding to purchase a 3D printer, the TechGyrls were excited to learn how to use it.

After spending some time learning about how the printer worked and designing their own products to print, one TechGyrls group at a Cambridge Public School decided they could to do more. They looked to eNABLING the future, an online community that openly shares the files and instructions needed to print and produce prosthetic hands.

Where Have all the Women Engineers Gone?

This post has been edited and was originally published on CarlyFriesen.com

I was, as Britney Spears would put it, not a girl, not yet a woman, when I excitedly started my first year of Engineering at the University of Guelph. I thought I was going to become an engineer, change the world, and bust through the glass ceiling Wonder Woman style. I had absolutely no doubts in my mind that I could and would do it.

As time passed, I started to wonder how thick this glass ceiling really was. With each year I began to see gender come into play more and more.

How to Talk to your Child about Gender

This story was originally published in the Spring 2016 issue of SHE Magazine. 

“Are you having a boy or a girl?”

I wonder how much longer we’ll ask expectant parents this question. Maybe instead we should start asking ourselves why assigning a gender at birth is so important to us.

More and more young people in Canada are starting to express their gender in unique ways that go beyond the masculine/feminine binary.  As parents, it is critical that we respond with love, curiosity, and an open mind.

Effective Empowerment: Strategies for Young Girls with Disabilities

The word ‘empowerment’ has been popular for many years.  In Effective Empowerment: Strategies for Accessible Education, I note that empowerment is “…based on the idea that giving people skills, resources, opportunities, and strategies will enable them to be accountable for their own actions, and will contribute to their independence, competence, and satisfaction.”

When it comes to disabled girls ages 8-12, the challenges they face in reaching empowerment are often the same issues that their non-disabled peers face. However, they also face their own specific hurdles.

Confidence is Crucial

This is the sixth post in the Confidence Stories series in partnership with Always®. Confidence Stories feature stories, tips and ideas to support girls, build their confidence, and encourage them to Keep Playing #LikeAGirl.

Most girls start out strong in life: they score higher than boys in reading and writing, they tend to make friends more easily, and they have stronger verbal skills. However, as they approach adolescence, many girls start to struggle

Research shows that only 14% of girls in Grade 10 feel confident, yet confidence is at the core of a number of positive outcomes for girls, including higher grades, better physical health, more career choices, and higher earning potential.

When a girl feels confident, she is also more likely to ask for help, to have the strength to resist peer pressure, to cope better with conflict and other problems, and to not blame herself if she is assaulted.

Challenging Gender Stereotypes to Prove #ABoyCanToo: Q&A with Kirsten McGoey

When photographer Kirsten McGoey was searching for a fresh way to practice her art, she didn’t have to look far for inspiration: her middle son sparked her photo series #ABoyCanToo. “He beats to his own drum,” says Kirsten. “While a lover of math and science, he is often drawn to things that are not considered male by society.”    

#ABoyCanToo is a series of lifestyle and studio portraits featuring boys aged 4-16 whose interests and hobbies defy gender norms. "The objective is to support the boys who are making these choices, and who are influencing people to understand that they are acceptable choices for young men to make,” says Kirsten, who launched the project out of her hometown of Whitby, Ontario in 2016.

In the following Q&A, she discusses how the photoshoots empower boys, and how challenging gender stereotypes relates to gender equality. 

Empowering Girls Through Culture, History, and Friendship: Strong Girls of Inlailawatash

When a shy girl gradually emerges from her shell and develops the confidence to lead a group activity, Jennifer Hamman knows that the Strong Girls of Inlailawatash program is succeeding.

“Just seeing them take those opportunities to take a little risk, to be a little vulnerable, and to let themselves just be themselves has been a really awesome thing to watch.”

The program, which receives funding from the Canadian Women's Foundation, provides a rare girls-only space for Tsleil-Waututh First Nation girls aged 9-13.

The Tsleil-Waututh community is set on the Burrard Inlet, surrounded by urban North Vancouver. As program coordinator, Hamman organizes the weekly program meetings, which aim to foster healthy relationships and connect the girls to their culture in a positive way. Hamman, who is also the Tsleil-Waututh Community Therapist, talks about how the program helps develop girls’ confidence, connectedness, and resilience.

5 Ways to Nurture Leadership in Kids

Girls smilingEvery child is a potential leader. Even if they weren’t “born” leaders, they may be taught to become them by parents, teachers and other role models.

Leaders are people who have the ability to empower others to get things done. They inspire other people and set the directions to create something new. It isn’t about being at the top of a hierarchy, but about forging a path forward in collaboration with others.

So what personal qualities and skills could make your kid a great leader? There isn’t an exact answer. It all depends on personality and surroundings. For instance, some children are more confident than others, but that doesn’t make them a leader. As a parent, you play a huge part in helping your child develop the ability to lead.

Girls, Let's Fail Together

Parents walking with child

This article was originally published on Puzzling Posts.

We went on a family vacation late last year. It was a wonderful family experience where the girls got to play in the ocean, watch monkeys swing through trees, and learn that there are more places on earth than Ottawa.

And yes, we pulled our oldest daughter from school for the week to make this happen. Away from math classes, away from science projects, and away from whatever style of dodgeball teachers are able to get 6-year-olds to participate in.