GIRLS TOO! SERIES
Times have changed. And so have the things our young girls encounter. While many issues remain the same, our girls often find themselves not having any resources when they need someone besides a “celebrity” to look up to or who they feel comfortable talking to. They will have enough to deal with as adults and sometimes all it takes is one woman to come into their lives whether as a teacher, counselor or mentor to change the course of their lives. CWM recently spoke with Connected Woman Shekina Farr Moore, a woman who has blazed her own path in helping girls navigate this thing called life and make it by any means necessary. Want to know how you can get involved and make a difference?
How can women get active in their own communities in order to uplift girls? We often think of the grandiose in terms of connecting with girls in our communities, but getting active starts with the small, seemingly insignificant things. These include, but are not limited to: showing up, dressing up, modeling healthy esteem through our own relationships and being leaders in our respective industries.
At a macro level, we can bring awareness of pressing issues facing women (think income inequality, workplace gender disparities, domestic violence, etc.) as well as provide exposure to opportunities that lie beyond the status quo for girls.
What are some ways to find local organizations and volunteer? Volunteerism is an important element for all women seeking to uplift girls. It not only enriches your life through personal growth, it opens doors of opportunity, enables you to learn new skills, expands your network and increases your reach and influence. (Did I mention it can be used on your resume as experience?) I encourage women looking for ways to volunteer to:
• Explore volunteer opportunities in your zip code using platforms such as volunteermatch.org or Idealist.org.
• Ask around. There is usually only one to two degrees of separation between you and what you are looking for.
• Seek volunteer opportunities that align with your passion, core values or even a cause that combats something that rubs you the wrong way!
From your career in education to today, has the problems facing our girls -in your opinion-stayed the same or escalated due to changing times? Can you tell us what some of the major issues are? I began serving youth in 1997. Amazingly, some challenges remain constant—low self-esteem, lower expectations to lead than for boys, higher expectations to work hard than for boys, a heavy focus on looks, etc. However, the degree of some of these challenges has elevated over the years.
I have never before seen such an epidemic of low self-worth as I have in the last six years or so. The explosion of social media, celebrity culture and reality television has had a noticeable, negative impact on our youth, landing its heaviest blow to girls. The constant comparing, questioning, measuring up, sizing up and keeping up landscape is taking a toll on girls and women.
Traditionally, young women and girls have been left out of leadership roles. We all know leadership is a primary arbiter of power. In order for more girls to aspire to leadership, we must expose them to leadership, train them to be leaders and expect them to become leaders. But this requires self-esteem and a sense of competence. Narrow narratives of women contribute to the wide gaps in leadership and the challenges facing young women and girls today.
What resources should Moms look to when they see their daughter going wayward or in an environment where they are at a greater risk? Parenting is a challenging job. If your daughter begins to show signs of trouble or if she is at-risk, I encourage Moms to do four things:
• Explore resources with your child’s school counselor. As a mom, your past experiences with a school counselor may be vastly different than what your daughter will have. 21st century counselors:
1. Respond to student needs in crisis situations;
2. Orient students to new school settings;
3. Counsel students individually and in group settings;
4. Work with absentees, potential dropouts and other at-risk students;
5. Refer students to special programs and/or services when necessary;
6. And much more
Counseling services are amazing, but you don’t have to stop there.
• Get your daughter involved in activities that can enhance her gifts or bring them out. One of the things my own mother emphasized with me growing up was involvement. “Idle time is the devil’s workshop”, she said often. I didn’t know how tough I was until I tried out for basketball as a high school sophomore. I had never dribbled a ball before. The next year I was captain.
Because of her mantra, I was involved in lots of other activities (Journalism, JROTC, Drama, etc.) that put me in position to develop my leadership skills and to earn a scholarship to attend college—all from exposure.
• Foster a healthy relationship with your daughter but don’t be her friend. Being a mother is a challenging job but you are graced for it. Resist the urge to be her buddy. This time of her life is critical and when tough decisions have to be made, you don’t want ‘Friend’ to override ‘Mom’.
• Connect your daughter with a mentor. There is power in being in environments that breed success. Many colleges offer big sister mentoring programs. Look out for those in your area. No such thing where you live? Consider starting one. B2F Girls! Worldwide offers a Girls Empowerment Certification & Launch Program for Women who empower girls at www.b2fgirls.org. Be the change you seek and accept nothing less than the best for your daughter. She will thank you later. Trust me.
What message do you want all young girls to carry with them daily that can help guide them through hurdles they may encounter? I want all girls and young women to know that you not only deserve to be at the table, you deserve to order the finest; that you don’t have to be perfect, just be brave. Chase your dreams, encourage your sisters along the way and let no one dim your light.
Pegged a Girls Advocate and a Woman Ambassador, Shekina Moore, E.Ds., believes developing healthy esteem in girls is the key to tapping into their leadership capacity. Shekina empowers audiences with her5 Principles for F.I.E.R.C.E. Success. Answering that call on her journey to liberate women and girls, Shekina launched her Fierce Girl Empowerment Movement, to inspire females to show up in their own lives that they may ignite those watching and taking notes. For complete details on her, information about her endeavors and more info visit www.shekinamoore.com.
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