6 Empowering Organizations For Girls And Young Women

While there have been many strides made toward closing the gender gap, there is still a long way to go. Thankfully, there are organizations across the globe that remain dedicated to helping women and girls succeed. From groups focusing on leadership to those encouraging female participation in male-dominated sports, here, in no particular order, are organizations that are working to uplift and inspire young women.

Starting off the list at #1 is the Girl Scouts of Eastern Massachusetts. With offices in Andover, Boston, Middleboro, and Waltham, its mission is to build girls of courage, confidence, and character. Its leadership development program encompasses a variety of activities that include outdoor adventures with a focus on first aid and safety, cooking, camping skills, scouting traditions, and navigation.

Local members participate in the Girl Scout Cookie Program, which promotes entrepreneurship, life skills, and the opportunity to explore hands-on science, technology, engineering and math activities such as automotive design and marine life rescue. Established in 1917, it is considered the largest girl-led entrepreneurial program for young women in the world. Media coverage of the organization includes the Boston Business Journal, the Lowell Sun, and Wicked Local Topsfield.

At #2 is Hardy Girls Healthy Women, a Maine-based, research-driven nonprofit that works with girls and gender expansive youth annually through year-round, statewide programs. The organization offers in-school workshops that examine media messaging for students as well as programs that help teachers, administrators, and parents create safe spaces for learning. Additional training topics include exploring the impact of marketing to children and ways to instill empowerment in young women.

The group's co-founder, Lyn Mikel Brown, Ed.D, is the author of Powered by Girl, which provides a playbook for working with and training girls to be activists and includes personal stories and interviews. Author Roxane Gay, activist Hebh Jamal, and poet and educator Melissa Lozada-Oliva are among those to have spoken at the organization's past events.

Joining the list at #3 is Alliance for Girls located in Oakland, California. It focuses on strengthening organizations and leaders that support young women through advocacy, research, and leadership development. In 2017, it launched the Circles Initiative, which convenes small, working cohorts of members who are invested in supporting girls. Topics addressed by the groups include men’s engagement in gender equity and female leadership in sports.

Through its partnership with the Oakland Unified School District, Alliance for Girls and student leaders developed a toolkit to build the capacity of educators and administrators to create a school climate focused on supporting young women of color. The affiliation received the inaugural National Girls Initiative Innovation Award from the U.S. Office of Juvenile Justice & Delinquency Prevention. Among the group's members are the Family Violence Law Center, the Eva Gunther Foundation, and The BlackFemaleProject.

Coming in at #4 is Michigan Women Forward, a public foundation devoted to the economic and personal well-being of women and girls in The Wolverine State. Through the organization's UGOGirlsforChange program, high school girls work in teams to identify areas of improvement for the female residents of their own communities. Participants learn about the issues and brainstorm with one another in search of creative solutions for those challenges.

Michigan Women Forward operates the HERstory museum, which honors the stories of the state's notable female citizens. Inductees include CBS Sunday Morning correspondent Martha Teichner and Margaret Kirchner Stevenson, one of the first women to fly US military aircraft. The organization has been featured in the Lansing State Journal, Crain’s Detroit Business, and Forbes.

Landing at #5 is Soroptimist. Formed in 1921 during a time when women were not permitted to join service organizations, its name, loosely translated from the Latin, means best for women. The group's Dream It, Be It: Career Support for Girls program gives participants the tools they need to achieve their education and career goals, empowering them to break cycles of poverty, violence, and abuse.

During Soroptimist's annual convention, attendees partake in panel discussions, listen to keynote presentations, and celebrate award recipients. Guests can also visit the on-site store, which supports the organization's programs and features a wide variety of items such as pins, bracelets, holiday greeting cards, and bookmarks. Past supporters of the group's mission include Royal Neighbors of America, Little PINK Book, and The Torrid Foundation.

Wrapping up the list at #6 is Longboard Girls Crew, a global and diverse community that supports and promotes girls, womxn, trans and non-binary people in male dominated sports such as skating and longboarding. Its projects include Surf Ghana, which seeks to empower the country's youth through skateboarding and surfing and Rise in India, a year-long program in orphanages and rehab centers across Manipur, with activities centered around dance, arts, writing, and sexual harassment education.

In order to raise awareness about longboard riders, the group produces videos and movies, including the film OPEN, directed by Daniel Etura. Longboard Girls Crew co-founder Valeria Kechichian has spoken at events around the globe for Nike, Facebook, and Swiss Life, as well as multiple TEDx conferences. Among the media outlets to profile the organization are Conde Nast Traveler, BBC News, and ESPN.