How does Alliance For Young Girls is developing Leadership and Employability skills for young women and girls?
International Day of Girl Child is an annual observance in October that amplifies the voices of adolescent girls. At the same time, this day is designated to eliminate gender-based challenges that little girls face around the world, including child marriages, poor learning opportunities, violence, and discrimination.
We had the opportunity to talk to Ja’net Young, Founder and CEO, AYWG to closely understand their functioning and the challenges they have to overcome daily.
Alliance for Young Women and Girls (AYWG) is a nonprofit organization that promotes the livelihood and well-being of disadvantaged young women and girls. They foster various learning environments by leveraging an educational setting through partnerships with the surrounding communities.
Why is gender-based discrimination prevailing in 2021?
A: Ja’net – I think it has to do with a person’s belief and their culture and how they view women and then the significance of a woman’s role in society. So if a person believes that women and girls are not important, are not important part of the fabric in our society, then we don’t get placed in the forefront or we don’t get a seat at the table when it comes to working in major companies are making significant decisions and societal roles such as politics or working in VP positions in a company. So I think it has to do with how we are viewed based on a person’s or our group’s beliefs.
How do we stop gender differences to take the form of gender discrimination?
A: Ja’net – One is giving women the opportunity to have a seat at the table, asking us our opinions. So asking us for our input and various policies and procedures, and society asking us what we think or how we can contribute. That’s the only way that we’re going to overcome our differences, because we do have something to offer and something to contribute.
What are some challenges that your nonprofit faced in your journey to help disadvantaged women?
A: Ja’net – One of the challenges that we face is that those young girls don’t have access to lucrative careers because they don’t have equal knowledge of the resources that are made available to them in their communities.So what our organization does is we help give them a platform or access to those resources. One of the things being is that we help and teach our participants how to identify their talents, we teach them how to identify their skill set. And we also teach them how to upskill or identify the upskill, I’m not sure if you’re familiar with that term, but upskilling, obtaining additional skills needed to go into those industries that I just mentioned.
For example, if our participant is going through our program identifies a career that they want to go into for writing and how can they use that to go into business? How can they use that to go into tech? There’s also a discrepancy in that industry because there aren’t many women and girls pursuing that field. After all, they’re not aware of. So those are the things that we bring to our participants to give them equal access.
How did the pandemic affect your work and beneficiaries in the last year?
A: Ja’net – One of the biggest ways that has impacted us is it stopped us from meeting in person, our training was in person 100%, face to face. Now, our training has moved to hybrid and the majority of it is online.
When we’re not face to face in person and you’re doing the training online. It’s challenging, because it’s being on zoom and Google me, you can’t build a personal rapport with participants, and they’re not easily open to opening up.
With the technical challenges, all of our participants due to the economy or their financial status, they don’t have access to the internet, or they don’t have access to computers. So meeting in person, at the time pre COVID gave us the opportunity for us to be able to connect with them, and train them in person. Now we have to overcome those barriers. So it’s been a learning curve for us also because we have to dress our approach and how we approach our participants. And then we had to also modify our curriculum just to meet their needs
What are some things you wish more people knew about the cause that you are working for?
A: Ja’net – One thing I could speak to personally, just in being a woman, and then I also advocate for this, and this self care. Part of our training is that we promote women taking responsibility for their own emotional well being and their physical bodies. So allowing women to do that.
We know better than anyone else does. Because we have to live in our bodies. So to give us that space, and to listen to us. I find that as a challenge with women is that we’re not heard, especially when it comes to that. Instead of being listened to, and helping us to mitigate whatever issue is going on with this. So I find that as a really big challenge and to help women and to provide us and girls to provide us equality in that area is that we need to be listened to. Although we may not have certain credentials or doctorates behind our name. But no one knows our bodies better than we do.
What are some ways in which we can help AYWG to accelerate its process for positive change?
A: Ja’net – For example, if you’re able to meet with our participants through virtual meetings like Zoom, or Google meet, and provide career coaching, speaking to your role, sharing a little bit about what you do, because our participants are not aware of various career occupations. They are aware of the teachers, because they go to school. There were doctors because they go to the doctor’s office. There were nurses, police officers, and service jobs, but they’re not aware of other occupations that are out there. So being able to provide one-on-one career coaching.
Other ways with our nonprofit is a non-direct approach. Not working directly with the participants, but working on the back end. For example, we need help with our social media pages. Someone overseeing our Facebook pages, Instagram account and helping us to build ad campaigns and internship programs so we can get college students to come in and volunteer or intern and work with our participants.
Any message you would like to share with potential volunteers for AYWG?
A: Ja’net – So the impact that our volunteers will have on our participants will have a life lasting impact on not only the people that you help, but also the legacy that they leave behind with their families and the impact that they make in their community. You’re impacting an entire community, because just with one person that you can contribute your time to, that one person goes on to impact three to five-hundred people. So you are planting a great seed.
I just want to tell them that they don’t have to be nervous. Just be your authentic selves. If the participants are going to be open to them, they can be your authentic selves. Because whatever you bring to the table, you have to share. Just like you mentioned, it’s twofold. Volunteering makes an impact on the volunteers.
While the equality differences between men and women have lessened over time in some aspects and regions, women are still not viewed as fully equal to their male counterparts in many situations, especially in developing countries. It all stems from traditions that date back hundreds of years, so the International Day of the Girl is one of the many ways people are invalidating this outdated ideology.
Celebrating International Day of the Girl Child with Alliance for Young Women and Girls
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