Girl Determined

Girl Determined is a leadership project designed to assist girls ages 12-17 to avoid the pitfalls of trafficking, dangerous labor and other forms of violence, by facilitating girls' recognition of their personal and group potential. Because of our belief in girls as potential change-agents in their households, communities and nations, our program aims to increase girls' ability to make strategic life-decisions, generate choices and exercise bargaining power. This real empowerment creates opportunities for girls to better cope with their difficulties, envision alternatives and take leadership into their own hands. The underlying premise of Girl Determined work is that educating, connecti...
Oct 14, 2014

Keep International Day of the Girl going year round!

Girls created and sang a song for change.
Girls created and sang a song for change.

On October 11th, many across the world celebrated the 3rd anual International Day of the Girl.  Adolescent girls in Myanmar joined in the celebration by asking their communities help them to achieve their potentials:

  • to break down some of the barriers that girls face to achieving their success; 
  • to support them in their educations;
  • to make sure the streets are free from violence;
  • to reduce their chore burden so they can study;

And, above all to show them love and respect as full and complete individuals. 

This year we have 2000 girls in our weekly leadership circles.  Yes, 2000! Yikes.  They come from different ethnic backgrounds and different relgions.  They come from towns, cities and rural communities.  They are 12, 13, 14, 15 and 16.  They are tall, short, funny and serious.  And, yet, they all know that somehow they are being short changed. The girls decided to use International Day of the Girl to build strength and unity amongst themsleves and to invite parents, siblings, community leaders, teachers and all sorts of folks to hear their poems, watch their dances and listen to their words as they asked for real recongition.  

One of the girls from a politically active, rural community told me that when she asked her parents to attend the events put on by the girls in Girl Determined's programs, her parents dismissed her request immediately.  "They made many excuses," she said.  "So, i kept asking and kept asking until, well, finally mom mother agreed and my father followed." Thanks to the efforts of the girls in 15 communities across the country, a conversation has begun.  And, only with the ongoing and active discussion will the girls be able to keep that conversation progressing until the point that real change will occur.  The barriers girls face will become less visible. The hurdles easier to clear.

2000 girls in Burma are determined.  We are determined.  What about you?

Your support means the world to each of them.

With best wishes and girls across the world in my heart, 

brooke

Jul 17, 2014

Girl Determined's leadership projects reach 2000!

Moe Lwin Htay shares her views
Moe Lwin Htay shares her views

Greetings girl champions,

 

I just want to check in to let you know how your support is helping girls. Girl Determined continues to grow. We are now reaching almost 2000 girls every week! These girls become a part of our Colorful Girls program and get the chance to engage in activity-based leadership sessions that have proven to build girls confidence, enhance their abilities to make life decisions and use their new-found understanding to advocate for girls’ rights in their community and at the national level.

 

Of course, we can collect data and make observations about the changes in the teenage girls from Burma but nothing really demonstrates the changes in behavior, attitude, knowledge and status than the words of one of our amazing Colorful Girls.

 

Meet Moe Lwin Htay[i]. She is in the 9th grade and lives in the outskirts of one of the country’s larger towns. She shares with us some of her thoughts on the impacts of Colorful Girls in her own life and how it can be a force to help empower other girls her age.

 

My name is Moe Lwin Htay. There are 9 people in my family including my grandma. My mother is a cleaning person in a building owned by the city government. My father got divorced and he left when I was young.

 

I am in the second year of Girls Determined, Colorful Girls leadership program. I have noticed that there are some clear differences between all of us in Colorful Girls and the other girls our age in our community. Colorful Girls are more thoughtful than other girls, as an example most Colorful Girls don’t have boyfriend compared to other girls. This means that they spend more time working on their own goals including education or personal development. Most of us have changed our way of thinking and therefore our behavior. We now know that girls have equal rights with boys and because of that understanding we have become more hardworking and aspire to achieve.

 

Before I joined Colorful Girls last year in the eight grade, I would say that I was just ‘an ordinary girl.’ The first thing I have learned from our group was that girls feel small because of the social norms brought along from generation to generation. Having really begun to see this around me, I have gradually changed. Now, I think about the people are me in a positive way and rarely have a negative view point. I am more able to find empathy with my peers and also with my mother.

 

From Girl Determined I have learned some conflict resolution skills and have become deeply interested in learning more about and practicing conflict resolution in my community and perhaps, in the future, for my country which has many conflicts especially race and religion. This could not only be useful for my nation, but it could be a real career path for me. My interest start when I attended Girl Determined Peacebuilding Summer Camp. The project facilitators don’t discriminate. They taught us about power and violence and that inequity can create conflict.

 

I want to know how girls can persuade more girls for girl unity. The last thing is I want to know how we can persuade boys to understand the girls because they commit violence against girls even at the time when we are just walking on the road.

 

For girls who are younger than me, I encourage them to not to think of themselves as left behind the boys, but they must stay abreast of boys and try hard. And, when parents try to get them to drop out of school, they must stay strong and persuade their parents otherwise.   They should strive to finish higher education. When they become educated they will be closer to gaining equal access to job opportunities with the boys. Of course, they must make friendship with the boys and men too. They need to be our allies.

 

For me, I will continue to focus on my personal development and do my best not to be distracted.   I don’t want to miss out on achieving my goals. we will lose our goals. Like I have learned from Colorful Girls, I am trying to achieve my goal. I always think about what I do and I will also try to reach. Maybe I will not be a great woman, but for sure I want to become a woman who is good at making decisions.

 

With heartfelt gratitude for being apart of this work,

Brooke

 

Brooke Zobrist

Girl Determined

Director

 

 

 

 

 

[i] [i] I have taken the liberty of changing her name for her security.

Dec 27, 2013

Teenage Girls speak out on their rights in Burma

We are thrilled to report that 2013 has been a banner year for Girl Determined!

 

We began working with adolescent girls in Burma in 2008, and seeing many girls' desire to learn and create options for their futures, we expanded and more formally organized in 2010.  This past year we have been reaching over 1300 girls aged 12-17 through regular weekly leadership programs. Though our local community staff and the girls' parents can see how the program is changing the way girls see themselves and how they interact with their communities, this new sense of strength and value was publicly evident in October at Girl Determined's forum for the International Day of the Girl Child.

 

The UN designated International Day of the Girl Child last year and this was the first time that girls in Burma came together to claim their rights.  Since March Girl Determined staff have been facilitating a process in which adolescent girls in our programs discuss what they want their futures to look like - how should the education system improve to better attend to girls needs?; how can family members support girls to achieve their potential?; how can the justice system really ensure that girls and women are safe from abuse? After months of discussion and participation with over 1000 girls, the first "Girls Statement on Rights in Burma" was released by all the girls in our Colorful Girls Circles program on October 18th. 

 

Over 900 girls in Mandalay and 500 girls in Yangon joined together that day to publicly release the statement, discuss the future for girls and bring attention to the unique needs and potential of adolescent girls to shape society, politics and the economy.  That day, adolescent girls handled questions from each other, from the press and managed all aspects of the day's program.  One very experienced community development worker told me, "Wow!  I have never seen anything like this! Girls in our country tend to be so shy and afraid, now they are speaking out and I thank you all for this.  It can change our nation." Girl Determined is putting girls in the position to design their own futures and to create a future in which their sons and daughters do not face the same risks - extreme poverty, trafficking, labour exploitation, violence and school drop-put - that they now face.

 

Please continue to support these efforts.  What the girls learn in Girl Determined programs last a lifetime and cannot be taken away from them.  For 2014 we aim to reach  1800 girls every week and to launch a new tool - a 'By Girls, For-Girls' magazine to help galvanize this movement for change.  Click in and help us get the magazine off the ground.

http://www.globalgiving.org/microprojects/girls-burma-myanmar-rights-magazine/

Thank you for being apart of this important and inspiring program. 

 

Warm regards and love for the holidays,

brooke

Director

Girl Determined

.

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