Cross-sector Collaboration to Empower Girls


The charge to educate girls is amplifying. Girls Inc. is proud to partner with The White House's Let Girls Learn initiative to help adolescent girls around the globe complete their education. Educating girls has a ripple effect on their families, their communities, and so the world. Collaborating to support girls allows us to leverage cross-sector synergies to create significant, sustainable change.

This Sunday, October 11, we commemorate International Day of the Girl, established to highlight the rights and needs of girls everywhere and examine how we enable them to reach their full potential. The answer: together.

Recently Girls Inc. joined those committed to girls for Glamour's "Power of an Educated Girl" event. More than 200 Girls Inc. girls packed the historic Apollo Theater to hear First Lady Michelle Obama and panelists Charlize Theron, Julia Gillard, former Australian prime minster, and youth ambassador Nurfaha from the Philippines discuss the power of girls to transform the world. That morning we stood together recognizing that we decrease poverty and strengthen our economy by ensuring girls have access to education.

The day of hope and celebration was a brilliant reminder of the greatness achieved when the public, private, and social sectors come together under the shared mission to empower girls. I saw leaders of states, a range of nonprofits, and individuals and corporate citizens inspired and united to champion for girls. So often, those of us in leadership ask ourselves how we can improve and innovate. Collaboration is the way to achieve more.

It takes our elected officials acknowledging gender inequality and enacting policies to address the problem. It takes social service organizations with strong leadership and effective programs. It takes the private sector investing in these organizations and the solutions they provide. These companies, which reach millions, are well-positioned to raise awareness of the issues and how they affect us all. And lastly, it takes the support of individuals to advocate and stand for girls.

Advancing opportunities for girls might seem like a necessity outside the U.S. However, girls here at home continue to encounter significant obstacles. Consider that one in four girls will not finish high school. Three in 10 girls will become pregnant before the age of 20. And one in 5 girls will be a victim of childhood sexual abuse. Body image and gender stereotypes only heighten the situation. For the sake of girls, their families, and our communities, we must address these issues.

At Girls Inc., we equip girls with the resources and support to face challenges and succeed. We provide girls with trained staff and volunteer mentors, a safe environment where girls grow together, and programming that prepares them to reach their goals. The generosity of individuals, public sector support, and partnerships with the private sector allow us to offer the comprehensive Girls Inc. experience. Leveraging resources through partnerships is how we achieve these results.

Collaboration is not easy work. I've spent the last 23 years in the social sector, more than 20 years in the private sector, and served on public sector advisory councils. I know the challenges that exist. Yet, collaboration is how we solve today's complex social issues. As International Day of the Girl draws near, let's come together to educate and empower girls. Imagine the remarkable change that can happen when we exchange ideas and combine resources.

Girls across the country today and future generations are counting on us.