Girl Justice Roundup

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

Local

Looking for something fun and science-y to do? Check out UW Bothell’s Sally Ride Science Fair on October 4! They’ve got workshops, a street fair, and hands on science activities.

School’s Out Washington’s Emily Emerson and Katrina Go co-authored an article for Education Week on the role of youth development in promoting racial equity. Check it out!

Saturday is Girl Scouts of Western Washington‘s Super Sign Up Saturday. If you’d like to join Girl Scouts (as a girl of volunteer), check out one of oodles of sign up events all over Western Washington.

National

Teen Feminist is calling on her followers to post photos of their “real selves” with the hashtag #shareyourflaws. She’s just so great.

The Representation Project built a new gender and media literacy for youth, and they are giving it away! Miss Representation will choose 3 inspiring videos about how Miss Represenation provides the tools to combat sexism. The winners will receive a free copy of the new curriculum.

The Girl Scouts Gold Award profiles keep coming. This week they profile Camille Borders who created a seminar to encourage girls to run for office. Way to go Camille!

Emma Watson boldly called on men to step it up with her speech before the United Nations launching the HeForShe campaign.

International

Think fast: What’s the number 1 cause of death for girls aged 15 to 19? If you guessed cancer, childbirth, or traffic accidents you are wrong. It’s suicide. Suzanne Petroni unpacks this phenomenon on the Ms. blog.

When reading articles about girls internationally (their education, their marriages, their health…) I often wonder, “Where are the girls in this?” Two great pieces came out asking that question. It can’t really be girl justice if girls aren’t at the table as equals. The Girl Hub shared a piece on how they incorporate girls into program and product design. On NPR’s Goats and Soda blog, Linda Poon posed the question: “It’s all about the girls: Is the world listening to them?” She highlights the making of the Girl Declaration, which involved 500 girls.

GirlUp’s Teen Advisors attended the Social Good Summit, and shared their observations and commentary with those of us who couldn’t attend. Morgan Wood reflected on participating in a panel with powerful female trailblazers. Sarah Kimjee wrote about her encounter with the founder of Let Girls Lead. Susannah Meyer’s piece focused on the role of technology in promoting social good worldwide.

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Girlhood in Washington State by the Numbers

In August 2014, the Girl Scouts Research Institute (GSRI) released a report that “examines girls’ well-being across each of the 50 states and the District of Columbia.” The rankings are a based on a “well-being index” that includes physical health and safety, economic well-being, education, emotional health, and extracurricular/out-of-school time activities.

Washington state ranked in the middle of the pack (#24 out of 50), and narrowly avoided falling into the bottom half. According to the study, Washington is a decidedly average place to be a girl. The state ranks 32nd in physical health and safety, 29th in education, 21st in extracurricular activities, 20th economic well being, and 16th in Emotional health.

The state’s “meh” score on girl-justice follows an “eh” score for child well-being from the Annie E. Casey Foundation. The state ranked 18th in the foundation’s 2014 Data Book, which looked at economic well-being, health, education, and family and community indicators.

Washington state is home to innovative and groundbreaking ideas in business and philanthropy, but two sets of indicators place us in the eh/meh range where girls are concerned. What’s the deal? Over the next couple of weeks, I’ll take a deeper dive into some of these indicators to see what they can tell us about girlhood in Washington, and what we still need to learn.

To kick things off, I’ll look at my personal favorite indicator: Extracurricular and Out-of-School-Activities. The GSRI looked at six statistics to create the indicator:

  • Girls ages 6–17 not participating in one or more organized activities outside of school (parental report, 2011–12)
  • Girls ages 6–17 who are not engaged in school activities (parental report, 2011–12)
  • Girls ages 12–17 not involved in community or volunteer work (parental report, 2011–12)
  • Girls ages 6–17 who watch television three or more hours per day (parental report, 2011–12)
  • Girls ages 6–17 who use electronic devices three or more hours per day (parental report, 2011–12
  • Girls ages 6–17 who don’t attend weekly religious services (parental report, 2011–12)

The GSRI published the results for one of them: “Girls Ages 6–17 Who Participate in One or More Activities Outside of School.” According to the report, 80% of girls in Washington participate in out-of-school activities. In keeping with the theme of “meh” scores, WA is in line with the national average of 82%.

Let’s pick this indicator apart. There’s a lot we don’t know about this statistic, especially what youth development practitioners call “dosage”. “Participating” could mean a lot of things: it could mean weekly programming, monthly programming, or a week of summer camp. And “activities outside of school” is broad and vague. It could refer to sports, church activities, school clubs, community programs, and more.

Rankings like these have to use big, vague indicators in order to be meaningful. We know you can’t compare apples and oranges, but you can compare fruit from one state to fruit from another. When you dig into these statistics, you quickly end up in the weeds with lots of detail, too much detail to make big comparisons. But if you look down on the states from 50 thousand feet, you can start to make comparisons.

The good news is that 4 out of 5 girls in the state are accessing out-of-school programs. We don’t know how often, what type, or for what duration, but we know that 80% of girls in Washington are getting something. The bad news is that 20% of girls don’t participate in any activities outside of school: no sports, no clubs, no community center programs, nothing. Many questions remain about what 80% of our girls are getting, but we know what 20% of our girls aren’t getting: meaningful girl programming that helps them connect to their communities and grow into healthy adults.

That’s a problem for our state. If we want to do better than “meh”, girls and adults across sectors need to look for new ways to get girls into high quality programs. This problem is not easy. We don’t know why 1 in 5 girls don’t participate in out-of-school programs, we don’t know where (geographically) these girls are, we don’t know how old they are, and we don’t know what programs would be relevant and engaging.

Despite these unknowns I’m optimistic. On a state level, we can start diving into the weeds and picking apart these more complex issues. If we can apply some of that innovative energy our state is known for to these essential questions, we can make significant progress on this critical indicator of well-being for girls.

Girl Justice Roundup

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

Local

Girls on the Run needs more coaches at ten sites, or girls may miss out on the opportunity to participate. Yikes! If you’re looking for a great volunteer gig, help them out! Check their site for more info about coaching.

Congratulations to City Club’s 2014 Youth Civic Education award winners: Nathan Hale High School’s Dessert and Politics, Food Empowerment Education and Sustainability Team (FEEST), Judges in the Classroom, Legislative Youth Advisory Council, and the REWA Youth Program.

Need to clean out your wallet? You can drop your spare change at Coinstar, who will donate up to $100,000 to the Seahawk’s Spirit of 12 partners. (Girl Scouts of Western Washington, Boys and Girls’ Club Washington State Association, YMCA of Greater Seattle, Treehouse for Kids and Camp Fire Snohomish County)

If you’re looking for fall activities or volunteer opportunities, consider a Girl Scouts of Western Washington Super Sign Up Saturday. You can learn about Girl Scouting all over Western Washington from 2:00-4:00 on September 27.

The Girl Scouts also teamed up with the Seattle Women’s Commission to conducted a focus group with women in government about economic security for girls. I’m really forward to reading the results!

National

The Girl Scouts blog featured several of their “Young Women of Distinction”, the creme de la crop of the Girls Scouts’ gold award recipients. Read about Monique Tinglin, Catherin Riordan, and Laura M. Robert Rivera’s projects.

Let’s talk studies! An Indiana University study found that a link between girls’ sexual health and academic success: girls are more likely to have sex on days they skip class, and less likely to use condoms on days they fail a test. The Girl Scouts Research Institute released a huge packet of data that compares, state by state, indicators of girls’ success.

Need a book to read? At the Spark Movement, Sam Holmes reviews Americanah, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s much lauded book about race in the United States.

International

Rock star Melinda French Gates published a study in Science on the importance of putting women and girls at the center of international development. You can read a summary at the Gates Foundation blog.

At Girls Globe, Judith Bruce at the Population Council, writes about the importance of moving beyond images and stories about girls in poor countries to evidence-based action that targets the poorest 40% of girls.