Across our programs, we work to help girls and women reach their full potential and live their best life story. Through our projects, we have the opportunity to meet girls doing extraordinary things to benefit their families and communities. To celebrate International Day of the Girl today, we’re sharing stories about exceptional girls and women we’ve met over the past year who are inspiring girls to empower others. We hope you will share these stories with your own networks and communities and continue to help us empower girls and women everywhere to reach their full potential.
In May the Clinton Health Matters Initiative and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, in collaboration with Grantmakers in health, hosted a "Forum Without Walls: Closing the Gap in Childhood Obesity”, in Newark, New Jersey. There, Kianna Knolland gave her perspective on how we can best close the gaps in childhood obesity in the United States by talking about the opportunities she's had to live a healthy lifestyle, "I benefitted from programs like Triple Play, where after school I was required to go the the gym and exercise, and then after exercising we would be provided with a healthy meal of vegetables and fruit and lean meat. My favorite program was Smart Girls, a girls empowerment program, which teaches young ladies like myself to live a healthy lifestyle, both physically and mentally." As National Youth of the Year, Boys and Girls Clubs of America, Kianna uses this platform to speak out and address the issues facing her generation, and acts as a role model to younger peers, empowering them to live healthier lives.
Earlier this year, The Lower East Side Girls Club in New York City participated in our first “Girls: A No Ceilings Conversation.” Founded in 1996, the Girls Club set out to train the next generation of female leaders by providing community-based, holistic programs and services for girls and young women. These girls encourage and motivate one another to set goals with no ceilings, and set an example to other young girls to do the same. “You don’t have to be the way society wants you to be," says Anyah. "You can be your own person.” Hear what other young, inspiring girls from the Lower East Side Girls Club say when we ask them their thoughts on what it’s like to be a girl today.
Nova also participated in our “Girls: a No Ceilings conversation” from earlier this year. In speaking out on behalf of a particular set of girls and women- undocumented immigrants- Nova gave a voice to those who previously had none and showed that every woman has a right to be heard and listened to. “I can only imagine how many girls there are who can’t fully empower themselves, especially in America, because we immigrated here. If we really look at our history, we’re all a room of immigrants, and the only people who were here were Native Americans.” Nova reminded us that, although women all over the world face very different challenges, they should all be united in having high aspirations and not being afraid to achieve them.
Asha Helmsletter is an 8th grade student at Seattle Girls’ School, and is intent on working to improve women’s position and participation in society. “At Seattle Girls’ School, we’ve learned to be really confident and that we have the power to make things happen,” Asha said. “But, there are girls all over the world who aren’t learning this. These girls are learning that they shouldn’t talk and that their opinions don’t matter. If we have more girls who believe they can make a difference in the world because change makers like Secretary Clinton and Chelsea Clinton are sharing their experiences and ideas, it will really boost other girls’ confidence. And hopefully, this will inspire girls and let them know that they can do what they want to do and make an impact.’ Asha is helping lead the way for a new generation of girls who will be inspired by this positive message, and have the confidence to not settle for less than they deserve.”
Natalia Leal, a parent at the East Harlem Head Start School, is as a mother of three young children - all under the age of 5. Natalia believes that an early education for her young children is important to ensure that they have the best possible opportunities for a good education for a successful future. “Through the East Harlem Head Start program and Too Small to Fail,” she says, “I’ve learned that every little bit – whether it’s 10 or 15 minutes of reading and talking to your child – makes a big difference in a child’s life. It’s very important for parents to understand how reading to their young children today will have a big impact in the future. It will open up more doors for their children and teach them how to set goals for their future.”
With the accelerating growth of computer-related jobs globally, and a shortfall of suitably equipped employees projected to be in the millions, the engagement of women in the tech sector is critical to both bridge the talent gap and provide companies with the diverse skills and perspectives necessary to thrive. In 2013, the Institute of International Education (IIE) and its consortium of private sector and NGO partners made a Clinton Global Initiative Commitment to Action to create an employee pipeline of 2,000 girls and women for the technology sector.
Since launch, WeTech has seen significant progress from many of its partners: A network of secondary schools in Bangalore, India was established, offering afterschool tech education activities for 60 girls; IIE created a mentorship platform to pair mentors from Goldman Sachs and Qualcomm with university women in India; Intel is conducting outreach to 6,000 girls to increase their participation and achievements at the IRIS Science Fair in India; Qualcomm created the Q Camp for Girls in STEM, which focuses on promoting STEM education, building skills, and raising awareness of STEM careers. Sarah-Marie Reed, a sixth grade student in San Diego, California, is a participant in the Q Camp, “the most fun job would be an engineer because you get to design new things and you get to sell it to the world, or you can keep it,” she says. Watch the video to hear her share more about how this commitment is changing the way she thinks about technology and science.