Over two hundred middle school and high school girls from Southern California gathered at Marlborough on Saturday, Sept. 17 to attend workshops on stereotypes, advocacy and journalism, and to hear from speakers at the fourth annual SoCal Girl Up Leadership Summit.
Teen Advisor and Director of Activities for Girl Up’s SoCal Coalition Sophia ’19 organized the event. The summit raised over three thousand dollars from registration fees, which went to funding Girl Up’s efforts in other countries fighting for girls’ rights. The summit focused on empowering attendees to use their voices and become leaders. Sophia described the goals for the event.
“I wanted them to take away a sense that they could really achieve something if they were to put work into it so that they could make a difference in the lives of underprivileged girls globally,” she said.
Sophia led a workshop on advocacy, teaching girls how to arrange meetings with Congress representatives in October about a bill that would protect the education of refugee girls. With the Protecting Girls’ Rights to Education in Vulnerable Settings Act, the U.S. would encourage other countries to guarantee safe and quality education for displaced children. The workshop demonstrated how to advocate for the bill by walking them through how to present the issue and ask for support for the bill. Attendees then participated in a mock meeting with their representatives in which they practiced making their pitches. Aside from workshops, the summit also featured many prominent female speakers. Shelmina Abji, member of Young Women Empowered and former IBM vice president; Liza Koshy, highly followed Vine and YouTube star; Cambria Findley-Grubb, member of UNICEF; and Anne Moses, founder and president of Ignite, spoke at the summit. These women discussed past experiences using their voices to make a positive impact on issues they cared about. Koshy talked about using social platforms as a minority. Moses spoke about the importance of political ambition in girls to create change. Abji discussed the essentiality of defining a personal brand and using one’s voice in order to make a change.
“If you truly want to get ahead, if you truly want other people to listen to what you have to say, if you want to make a difference, you’ve got to be the person who creates and adds value, and you must learn how to do it,” Abji said.
History and social sciences instructor Catherine Atwell said she thought the summit was a good opportunity for girls to come together.
“This is all about leadership and girls’ empowerment across the board,” Atwell said. “This is an opportunity for everyone to hear some interesting speakers and hopefully be energized and inspired to pursue leadership on their own.”