Contributed by: Jordan Watts, GEN Development Intern
On March 13, Girls Empowerment Network held its first annual Girl Advocacy Day for girls aged 12-23. This event was held at the Texas State Capitol to inform girls about the power their voice can make in their community. Participants learned skills to help them advocate for themselves and other disadvantaged groups throughout the day.
After the girls gathered in an auditorium on a lower level floor of the Capitol, GEN volunteers and employees started off the day with an extremely competitive game of “this, this, or this” and an icebreaker, then gave a presentation about the structure of the Texas Government and issues that are prominent among young girls in Texas, including human trafficking, teen dating violence and sexual assault on college campus, the rising rates of depression among teenage girls, education, and girls in the juvenile justice system. Girls had the opportunity to answer questions about these topics and add their own insight from their own experiences.
With all this information in mind, girls were then able to practice their advocacy skills. Stations were set up across the auditorium for girls to make posters for future marches they wanted to participate in, write letters to people that inspire them to create change, and even practice their skills by talking to actual representatives in the Capitol. The girls were split into small groups and each group met visited the offices of two State Representative or Senators – sometimes with the legislator themselves and sometimes with one of their staff people. Girls determined the issue (one of the five discussed earlier in the day) that they’d discuss with the legislative office, providing background on GEN, a personal story about their connection to that topic, statistics, and then asking about the legislator’s plans to address that issues.
Many thanks to the offices of: Rep. Donna Howard, Rep. Diana Arévalo, Rep. Mary Gonzalez, Sen. John Whitmire, Rep. Gina Hinojosa, Rep. Alma Allen, Sen. Sylvia Garcia, Rep. Senfronia Thompson, Sen. Jose Menéndez, Rep. Eddie Rodriguez, Sen. Kirk Watson, Rep. Ana Hernandez, Rep. Victoria Neave, Rep. Mary Ann Perez, Rep. Carol Alvarado, Rep. Jessica Farrar, Rep. Gene Wu, Rep. Celia Israel, Rep. Sarah Davis, and Rep. Ina Minjarez for meeting with us!
Teaching and empowering younger generations to advocate for the issues that matter to them is extremely important. With all this new information girls will be able to make more informed decisions about their government and create opinions based on facts. They will also feel more confident in raising their voice against inequality.
If you want to be the first to hear about more events like this, don’t forget to check out GEN on facebook (facebook.com/GirlsEmpowermentNetwork) and twitter (@Girls_EN) and on their website, girlsempowermentnetwork.org.
A similar story was published on HerCampus.com.