Weekly Roundup

My weekly take on the news from the Girl Justice movement (locally, nationally, and internationally). Please share what you have been reading in the comments!


Ladies First is cleaning up! The Tacoma PTSA awarded the group the prestigious Golden Acorn Award. Congrats!

Techbridge, a San Francisco based girls in STEM org that is opening a Seattle office, released an online tool-kit to prepare adults to engage youth in STEM. Way cool!

Want to go to an awesome party AND do something great for the community tomorrow? Sign up for Seattle Works Day, a giant day of volunteering, Today! Thanks Seattle Works. 🙂

Reel Grrl’s open house is tonight! Check out their new home from 4:00 to 7:00.

And don’t forget to go to Reuben’s next Thursday (6/5) to grab a beer to benefit Girls on the Run.


Maya Angelou passed away at the age of 86. She will be dearly missed.

#YesAllWomen exploded onto the scene in the wake of the tragic shooting in Isla Vista. Male allies responded with #AllMenCan. What does it all mean? Jessica Valenti at the Guardian, Tom Watson at Forbes, and Elizabeth Plank at Policy Mic weigh in.

What do girls think about Jill Abramson’s ouster from the New York Times? Maya Brown, Sam Holmes, and Madeleine Nesbitt at Spark Movement analyze the media coverage and what it means for girls.

Also at Spark, Madeleine explains why we need to read more female authors, from our personal bookshelves and in school curriculums.

Samantha Eyler at Everyday Feminism outlines the myths that lead girls and young women to believe that sexual harassment is totally normal.


#BringBackOurGirls seems to have faded in prominence in the wake of #YesAllWomen and Maya Angelou’s passing, but there were important developments last week. 4 girls escaped their captors, but the Nigerian government has not launched a rescue mission, fearing for the safety of the remaining girls. The Washington Post released an interview with two Nigerian young women about what it is like to be a girl in school in Nigeria.

The Girl Effect released a safety tool-kit for organizations working with girls. The tool-kit “provides practical advice and guidance on how to keep girls safe within programmes and how to manage and address risks if they arise.”

Aljazeera shares an interesting story on the digital divide between women and men in Africa.


What I Learned About Privilege from the Peace Corps

This post kicks off an occasional series where I ask folks to share about what they learned from an experience or job. I’m going to get things started today with an experience from the Peace Corps. Look for special guests in the future to share what they’ve learned. 

We were on our way to a youth conference when the bus stopped at an immigration checkpoint. I looked at my two pre-teen travel companions. As Dominicans of Haitian decent, they were often the target of discrimination and harassment. They handed their Dominican birth certificates to the guards, who motioned for us to follow them. I tried to contain my temper as we tripped over the other passengers, making our way off the crowded bus.

On the side of the road, the guard began to quiz the girls. “What’s your father’s name? What day were you born? At which hospital?” They had studied before we left, and answered each question directly, without hesitation. The guard turned to María and asked “What’s your name?” in Haitian Creole. Like almost everyone in the community, she’d grown up bilingual, and knew when to code switch. She paused half a second before replying in Spanish, “Speak to me in Spanish, please.”

Unable to rattle María, he turned to Altagracia and said “Say, say p—” And that’s when I lost it. All of the entreaties from Peace Corps to be a good representative of the USA boiled away as I decried the injustice of humiliating two girls on the side of the road. I was causing a scene because I was angry, but more than that, I was causing a scene because I could not let him finish that word. He’d done enough. I couldn’t undo it, I couldn’t get us back on the bus, but I could make sure he did not finish that word.

He was going to say “perejíl”: parsely. It was the word thugs, vigilantes, and soldiers used in the 1937 massacre to distinguish dark skinned Dominicans from Haitian immigrants. Fail to roll the “r” and the mob beat you to death. I couldn’t let him finish that word. I couldn’t let him ask Altagracia to say “perejíl.”

The bus driver was María’s cousin. He vouched for us, and the guard, either bored or convinced we were too much trouble, let us continue on our way.

We sat in silence for a moment before María spoke. “Alison,” she said “what really bothers me is that he never asked for your papers.”

And she was right. No one had asked for my papers. I was white, an adult, and painfully, obviously American. Had they asked, they would have discovered that my green card had expired a month prior.

I had studied white privilege. I’d noticed it and called it out in the states and abroad. But sitting silently on the bus with two girls who’d just been made to feel ashamed, made to deny their culture, while I got off unscathed… I carry that experience with me as I move through life, trying and sometimes succeeding and sometimes failing but always deeply committed to being an ally, to people of color and especially youth. Because that is the definition of privilege: When others are being stopped, questioned, and forced to justify their existence, no one even asks you. You could just keep traveling.

Weekly Roundup

My weekly take on the news from the Girl Justice movement (locally, nationally, and internationally). Please share what you have been reading in the comments!


Ladies First co-founder T’wina Franklin was honored with the WASA Community Leadership Award for her contributions to education. Congratulations T’wina! Thank you for all that you do for girls!

It’s a big week at Reel Grrls! Check out their work at two screenings at the NW Folklife Festival (Saturday at 1:40 and Monday at 5:00). Then, go check out their new space at their Open House on May 30.

Love beer and Girl Justice? Well, I do, and one of my favorite breweries is teaming up with one of my favorite organizations for Girls on the Run Night at Reuben’s Brews on June 5. A portion of the proceeds go to Girls on the Run, so fill your growlers and have another!

Want to go to the Bridge conference for free? Take School’s Out Washington’s professional development survey. 

If you’re feeling helpless in the face of the bad news (and there’s plenty out there) watch Girl Scouts WW’s video about a troop from White Center that has been involved in Girl Scouts for ten years.

Confused about how we’re funding education in Washington State? Go to Unpacking McCleary: Addressing Equity, Opportunity, and Funding in Washington State’s Education System, hosted by the Washington State Budget and Policy Center at Town Hall on May 29th. 


Everyday Feminism calls for more positive representations of female athletes in the news media. Why? Female athletes are role models for girls and young women, not sex objects. Yeah! Her article includes 4 things non-athletes/non-sports journalists can do.

Want to make a difference in the international sphere? Apply to be a youth observer at the United Nations! Girl Up has the details…

The Representation Project hosts an interesting conversation between Melissa Atkins Wardy and Jennifer Siebel Newsom about “redefining girly” and broadening gender roles for girls.

Also at the Representation Project, the best breakdown I’ve read on the portrayal of people of color in music videos, explained by a girl. Good reminder that adults have a lot to learn from youth!

Smart Girls at the Party held an art contest!  Check out the winning works by girls age 4 to 49.


I served in the Dominican Republic with the Peace Corps for three years. Last fall, the supreme court decided that Dominicans of Haitian descent were not citizens, throwing most of my community into legal limbo. This morning the senate approved a naturalization/regularization process. Ozy profiles Deisy Toussaint, a young female activist whose writing exposed the absurdity of the Dominican government’s racist policies. She’s my hero.

It’s a good day for profiles! Girl Hub features a great profile on Sandrine Umuhoza, a female carpenter in Rwanda.  Girl Up profiles Sister Rosemary Nyriumbe, a Ugandan nun who has been providing shelter and education to girls affected by the civil war for 20 years. Read and be inspired!

Great piece on Vox about why #BringBackOurGirls amounted to more than just “hastag activism.” Their key finding? Nigerians started the hashtag, and the international community picked it up, providing “Western backup for local activists whose weapon is public protest and dissent.”

Half the Sky produced a video titled “What’s So Scary About Smart Girls?” Definitely worth a minute. I teared up a little bit.

5 Tips for Working with Middle School Girls

By Lilia Cabello


When Alison invited me to contribute an article to the Girl Justice Blog, I was excited. My enthusiasm quickly wavered as I realized my experience with girl programs has always been administrative: writing curriculum, setting up event logistics, and developing activities that other volunteers carry out, rather than working directly with girls.

While I was panicking, I was asked to facilitate a bully prevention program for 35 sixth to ninth grade girls. The idea was both exciting and terrifying. What if I did something wrong? What if they ate me alive? Middle school girls can smell fear.

To my relief and surprise, the day went by quickly. Between activities, discussions, breaks, and meals, I found myself challenged and encouraged by the brave young girls. It was an eye opening experience, and I’d like to share a few of the lessons I learned:

#1: Snack is essential to survival: Girls at this age are developing at an alarming rate. Their bodies are changing, undergoing the adolescent process. A snack shortage can make girls feel like adults don’t care about their physical needs. Healthy snacks create a safe and welcoming environment, and a sense that grown ups care equally about the program and girls’ needs.

#2: Well timed breaks are flour in the bread of your program: Girls use breaks to digest what they are learning and discuss it with each other. Short or rushed breaks distract them from relaxing and deny them the space to process their experiences. Middle school-aged girls face many challenges, and they need time to relax and replenish, or they won’t absorb the material. (Bonus: break time helps adult volunteers process what is happening and mentally or physically regroup.)

#3: “Please” and “thank you” make a difference: We’re taught as children to mind our pleases and thank yous. As adults, we can forget to be courteous while speaking to girls. When a girl shares an idea or thought, or puts herself out there to answer a question, thank her for taking that risk. She’ll feel validated and respected, and the adults and girls will interact on a more equal level. They may not say “please” back to you, but they will remember that you said it. Why? “Because people will forget what you said, and people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” And that’s a truth, direct from Maya Angelou.

#4: Attitude is standard: There will always be at least one girl who is queen of the simultaneous eye roll/sigh. Accept it. We are grown ups and we are not cool. Continue to recognize and engage the eye-rolling queen, and let her know you still want her to feel validated and secure (even if you want to roll your eyes and flip your hair right back at her). Adults sometimes expect girls to act like adults, but they have a body revolution raging inside them. They may look like adults, but they are grappling with difficult feelings. Remember that, embrace it, and even the eye roll/sigh girl will come to respect you.

#5: Details are nice but unnecessary: We like to think that girls will notice and appreciate the details we agonize over. The super cute notebook you created for the girls may suffer serious damage, along with your ego. Girls are wonderfully creative and recognize passion, but your superbly detailed schedule, program, and activities will be derailed by the whirlwind that is girl power. Accept that now. Plan for exciting, engaging activities, but don’t stress about the tiny details. Learn to harness girls’ energy, and strap in for the crazy ride that is girl programming.

Working with girls can be a challenge. They are young women, vibrant, full of life, and going through a turbulent time in their lives. We adults wonder “Was I like that?” and shake our heads in disbelief. The truth is we all were. If you reflect on that time in your life, and think of the adults you admired, it wasn’t the most put together, funniest, or coolest; it was the ones who listened to you.

I gave you 5 tips for working with middle school aged girls. I hope they are helpful. But in the end, all they want is your attention, your full attention, to everything.

Lilia is a 1091girl justice advocate who focuses on curriculum creation and program management. She is passionate about understand the intersection of girls and race, and seeks to recognize and appreciate the differences in everyone she works with. She works as a volunteer with the Power Up Bullying Prevention Program with Girl Scouts of Western Washington, and serves on the board for Action for Media Education, a media literacy program that helps youth decipher the impact media makes in their world.

Weekly Roundup

My weekly take on the news from the Girl Justice movement (locally, nationally, and internationally). 


The Kick-Off meeting for the King County Youth Action plan is next week! The Youth Action Plan Task Force will develop a plan to invest $75 million in youth programs. The kick-off is open to the public.

Reel Grrls is hiring a Summer Fellowship Project coordinator to work with youth who make professional quality videos for non-profit clients.

School’s Out Washington released two great posts: One is an interview with the Community Day School Association about their experience using the School-Age Program Quality Assessment. The other “12 things you can do to Build Public Will around your summer program” is exactly what it sounds like!

Girls on the Run site applications are due Monday! If you want to start a club, get your application in by Monday!


Maria Klawe, the president of Harvey Mudd, explained the four changes Harvey Mudd made to get more women into computer science and electrical engineering majors. Rashni Kasad, Program Manager at Techbridge, an Oakland based non-profit (in the process of opening a Seattle office) that works with girls and STEM, echoed Klawe’s argument in her piece about the importance of role models.

Forget People’s 50 most beautiful! Montgomery Jones at the Spark Movement calls on the media to highlight what really matters about Lupita Nyongo: She’s smart, she’s talented, and she’s challenging the status quo.

Do you have something to say about real beauty? Create a PSA for the Free Being MePSA contest sponsored by the Girl Scouts of the USA and World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts.

Have a girl in your life? Author Lori Day at the Representation Project writes about using mother-daughter book clubs to spark conversation about stereotypes and the media portrayal of girls.


It’s been a month since almost 300 Nigerian girls were kidnapped. Half the Sky suggests 4 things you can do. Ms Magazine’s Andy Kopsa calls on corporations that do business in Nigeria to pressure the government. Kopsa urges consumers to start lobby corporations to take real action, not just tweet.

I focused on girl justice during my time in the Peace Corps, so I was thrilled to read about a partnership between Girl Hub Ethiopia (part of the Girl Effect) and the Peace Corps to start gender clubs for girls. You rock!

In Rwanda, boys are dressing up as girls and lining up to receive copies of a Ni Nyampinga, a magazine designed to empower teen girls. Great illustration of how sexism hurts everyone, and feminism is the solution! 

Girl Power Super Party


To celebrate Mothers’ Day, my mom and I went to a Girl Power Super Party. Girls on the Run of Puget Sound throws these incredible bashes twice a year. I’m sure you’re imagining fundraising galas or volunteer appreciation events, but the Girl Power Super Party isn’t about adults: it’s an integral part of the program. It’s also known as the Girls on the Run 5k.

Feel like a bait and switch? A run (rain or shine) doesn’t sound like a Super Party to you? I can see where your trepidation comes from, but the Girls on the Run 5k really is one of the best parties of the year. Here’s why:

1. It’s multi-generational

I thought being a running buddy with my mom would be fun because it would mean three generations of women would be outside, supporting each other, and running together: my mom (the boomer), myself (the millennial), and the girls we were assigned to run with (3rd through 5th graders). I didn’t realize that the girls would bring their entire families. The girl I ran with had her mom, her dad, her grandma, her uncles AND her baby cousin there to cheer her on.

Powerful Voices’s Girlvolution conference got me thinking about how important intergenerational partnerships are to youth development. Adult allies supported teen girls who crafted and delivered presentations on issues they care about. The girls were insightful and eloquent, and the adults in the room had to sit back, rather than telling the youth what to do.

Girls on the Run 5k created a similar environment for elementary school aged girls: It brought many generations together to support girls in tackling a challenge they have been preparing to take on for months. The adults saw what the girls were capable of, and the girls got support as they achieve their goals.

2. It involves the whole community. 

Magnuson Park was absolutely packed with families, girls, volunteers, dogs, and runners. Anyone can sign up for the 5k as a runner, anyone can cheer a girl on, and being a Running Buddy is one of the easiest, most-rewarding volunteer experiences out there.

The amazing thing is that Girls on the Run doesn’t just welcome everyone from our diverse community, it invites them in. Looking around before the run started, I was amazed by the diversity of the participants, families, and volunteers. I have spent A LOT of time studying the demographic make-up of King County, and (with no statistisc to back me up) I can say that this event looked like it reflected the diversity of the community. This is a HUGE win.

3. Girls are at the Center

When two girls got up on the stage after the race and started dancing, no one shoo’ed them away. I watched as more and more girls climbed up to join them until the stage was full of girls from a variety of schools dancing the Cupid Shuffle and singing “Let It Go” from Frozen. The adults watched in awe as the girls rocked out.

The entire event was geared toward celebrating girls. Athleta had a station for families to make signs to support their runners, a sorority did a crazy hair station that left girls beaming, and families lined the start and finish lines to create a tunnel of cheering fans. How often are third and fourth grade girls truly at the center of anything? At a Girl Power Super Party, they are the stars.

If you missed Saturday’s 5k, do not despair! The next Girl Power Super Party is just around the corner (well, in December) and there will be lots of ways to participate. Girls on the Run needs Coaches, Running Buddies, and On-Call Volunteers to make the party happen. If you want a taste of the fun (and you can’t wait until December) you can join SoleMates: their running and philanthropy club for adults.

However you decide to get involved, I hope to see you in December at the next Girl Power Super Party!

Weekly Roundup

My weekly take on the news from the Girl Justice movement (locally, nationally, and internationally). Please share what you have been reading in the comments!


Youth Workers! It’s time to sign up for Putting the Pieces Together: SOAR’s one-day professional development and networking conference. Last year’s conference was inspiring and edifying.

Saturday is Girls’ on the Run of Puget Sound‘s 5k! Go cheer on some girls starting at 9:00 a.m. at Magnuson Park in Seattle.

LeadNOW, Seattle Works’ alumni group, will host a quarterly forum with a community leader. The first one is Tuesday, May 13 and features artist and activist Debra Webb.

If you want some inspiration (and some new recipes), check out Madeline Dalton’s website Teens Can Cook, Too. For the back story, read up on her Gold Award Project on the Girl Scouts of Western Washington website.


Beautiful post by Trudy at Gradient Lair recapping bell hooks and Salamisha Tillet’s conversation “Passionate Presence: Protecting Black Girlhood.” Intelligent commentary on two iconic leaders’ discussion.

We all indulge in media that is non-perfect from a social justice perspective. What should we do about that? Everyday Feminism has a how-to guide.

It’s bike to work month! Sign up to track your rides at the Group Health Commute Challenge, and visit the Cascade Bicycle Club’s website to find out about events. What does bike month have to do with girl justice? Ms. Magazine explains how bikes and the emancipation of women went hand in hand.

Read about the inspiring youth recipients of the Prudential Spirit of Community Awards. These youth have done some COOL things!!

The YMCA of the USA, the Department of the Interior, and the National League of Cities will work together to get more youth outdoors! Two of the players have local roots: Sally Jewel, Secretary of the Interior, was the CEO of REI, and Neil Nicoll, the President and CEO of the YMCA, used to run the YMCA of Greater Seattle.

Super exciting development for research and data geeks: Youth Today won a $200,000 grant to create “a dedicated after-school and out-of-school time research and resource hub. SO COOL!!! The hub will live on the Youth Today website. 


#BringBackOurGirls is still (sadly) dominating international news. I wrote a post consolidating some of the best reporting on the subject. On the cold comfort/slightly positive news front, the Nigerian government has committed $10 million to making schools safer.

#BringBackOurGirls: What to Read, Who to Follow

With so many stories in the media about the almost 300 girls kidnapped from Chibok, Nigeria it can be hard to keep up. I spent some time going through articles today, and I picked a few to share. I’m most interested in stories that focus on activists in Nigeria, actions taken by the girls’ families and communities, and articles that explain how to kidnapping relates to the violence against women and girls globally.

Teju Cole’s tweets (@tejucole)

Screen Shot 2014-05-08 at 5.43.25 PM

Cole, the author of the “The White Savior Industrial Complex” has smart, aware commentary that you won’t find in the mainstream media.

“Our Visible Spectrum Is One in Which Some of Us Are Simply More Expensive Than Others” by Soraya Chemaly, Huffington Post (Twitter: @schemaly)

The truth is that certain adults are clearly scared witless by girls. It’s a great irony that, also everywhere, comparing a man to a little girl is the easiest way to suggest he’s weak and a coward.  Girls like those in Nigeria, who walk into schools knowing the dangers they face, are the bravest people I know.

Soraya Chemaly regularly provides some of the most interesting and insightful commentary on issues facing women and girls. Her article on the crisis is no exception. She ties this one event into the greater threats to girls across the globe, including in the United States and Europe. It’s long. Read it anyway.

“Have you “seen” the kidnapped girls of Nigeria” by Janell Hobson, Ms. Magazine (Twitter: @msmagazine)

How will we place gender and its intersections with race and class at the center of our analyses? Will we frame this as another “black pathology” story of U.S. “benevolence” intervening on African/Third World “incompetence” or “corruption”? This narrative is not helpful, especially when it comes from U.S./Westerners who couldn’t even begin to point out the northeastern region of Nigeria on a map.

Janell Hobson’s piece takes a good look at how this issue is being framed in the media, and how it should be framed. Westerners should take a good hard look at the questions in the last two paragraphs. Her piece reminded me of the crucial difference between being allies who support the struggle versus rescuers with savior complexes. 

These Girls Have Been Enduring the Unthinkable. The Least We Can Do Is Think of Them.” Wifey.tv (twitter: @wifeytv)

Reading names has long been a way to humanize victims of atrocity. This video presents the names of the girls (those that are known at least). Sit down for 3 minutes, watch this video, and think about the individual girls, their families, and their communities.

“Why Government Inaction Could Thwart Girls’ Education Progress in Nigeria” Global Fund for Women (twitter @GlobalFundWomen)

Our source sees social media as a tool to pressure corrupt governments and hopes that the pressure will shame the Nigerian government into being accountable to their citizens. “It is crucial for the international community to keep up their support through demonstrations, sanctions and diplomatic pressure as a clear sign of condemnation of the inadequate government response to violence against women,” said the Nigerian activist.

The Global Fund for Women makes unrestricted, general operating grants to women’s organizations that operate outside the United States. This piece is an interview with one of their allies in Nigeria (who asks not to be named). We’re hearing a lot about the celebrities that are throwing their support behind #BringBackOurGirls. It’s good they are involved, but we need to be focusing our attention on activists in Nigeria who are taking real risks and applying continual pressure on the Nigerian government.

“How Boko Haram imperils Nigeria’s future” by Melinda Gates, on CNN.com (twitter: @MelindaGates)

Melinda gates is a sharp cookie and a great writer, but the best thing about this post is the pictures. Flip through the images and really look at what people are doing in Nigeria to pressure their government. Keep tweeting, keep signing petitions, change your avatar, but remember what activists and community members are risking when they stand up in the face of arrest and violence. It’s powerful stuff.


Weekly Roundup

My weekly take on the news from the Girl Justice movement (locally, nationally, and internationally). Please share what you have been reading in the comments!


The big story locally is #GiveBIG, the Seattle Foundation’s online giving day. The foundation will “stretch” donations made on May 6. The more organizations raise, the more stretch dollars they get. If you want help deciding where to give, I wrote a blog post with my suggestions. You can also go to the Seattle Foundation’s website to search for your favorite organization. Then, celebrate by attending the Reel Grrls happy hour on Tuesday!

And in minimum wage news, the Mayor’s office released a plan to raise the minimum wage in Seattle to $15 per hour with a three to seven year phase-in (depending on company size).

You Grow Girl and Annara Counseling Services have a bunch of opportunities for girls coming up this month, including a series of workshops starting May 22 for teenage girls and their families to increase family strength.

Save the date: the Reclaiming Prosperity series at Town Hall presents “Gender and Work” on May 19. Panelists will discuss the the changing nature of work and gender norms.


Girl Up, is looking for girl leaders for their Teen Advisory Board. Nominate a girl by May 31! Teen Advisors play an integral role in Girl Up’s campaign.

New York City will provide free after-school programs to ALL middle school students. That’s over 60,000 students! Youth Today has the story.

The Girl Scouts did a bunch of cool stuff last week: They held a congressional briefing on financial literacy for girls, went on the Today’s show to promote selfies and self-love, and (my personal favorite) called for the creation of a National Girls’ Research Coalition.

Even without a research coalition, 4 interesting studies came out last week:
(1) The first study concludes that calling a girl fat makes her more likely to become obese.
(2) The second concluded that first-born girls are more ambitious and qualified than first-born boys.
(3) The third concluded that girls do better than boys at all levels of school in all subjects, debunking the myth that girls aren’t good at math and science (we just gotta translate into pay equity…)
(4) The final study concluded that girls’ superior people skills allow them to do better than boys in criminal street gangs, challenging the image of girls in gangs as wilting lilies and victims.


The top international story is the ongoing hunt (or lack thereof) for the girls kidnapped from their school in Nigeria. The Guardian has an article about the challenges girls in Nigeria face when they seek an education. Sign the petition demanding government action! The story came to prominence thanks to social media pressure, and grassroots advocacy will be necessary to keep it in the news.

Sajeda Amin of the Population Council explains why boycotting Made-In-Bagladesh products will not protect the workers, who are mostly adolescent girls.