Category Archives: girls’ education

Getting the Facts on Single-Sex Spaces

By Liz Peters, Editorial Intern
Photo © Kara Delahunt, 2012

Isn’t it funny that one of the most popular places where girls and boys are definitely separate is the bathroom?? Truth is, it’s a space where girls really open up with each other. When girls are placed in single-sex spaces, whether in bathrooms, schools, or extra-curricular activities, they are more likely to explore themselves as individuals and gain comfort in their own skin; girls in single-sex spaces are more likely to take healthy risks and to try new things that they might not in a coed environment, such as taking up leadership roles and using tools new to them.  In sum, girls have different experiences in girls-only spaces than they would if boys were around.

Did you know that girls who are enrolled in single-sex schools are more likely than girls at coed schools to join a competitive sports team, including ones that society tends to associate with boys such as football and basketball. Not only is it healthy to keep an active lifestyle, but girls who join competitive sports are more apt to take up leadership roles and avoid teen pregnancy. The world we live in needs more female leaders! President, anyone?

Young women attending girls-only schools also open a variety of academic windows—for example, they are more likely to speak up in class and to feel competent in and to study subjects such as computer science and technology. The National Coalition of Girls’ Schools, an organization committed to the powerful potential of all-girls’ schools, reports that 36 percent of graduates from all-girls schools consider themselves strongly skilled in computers, compared to 26 percent of their peers at coed schools. In addition, 48 percent of these graduates consider themselves “great” at math, while only 37 percent of girls in coed schools say the same. Bringing new minds to the math and science industries helps everyone by allowing for development in ways never before considered. Girls can bring a fresh perspective to science and society, hopefully changing it for the better.

Teen Voices is a single-sex space as well—no boys allowed! High school girls from different Boston neighborhoods and backgrounds have the chance to work with college-age young women on articles for our online and print magazine, and to explore what it’s like to be a teen today. Girls are able to share their thoughts and feelings in a safe place, which often leads to in-depth discussions that they might not otherwise have at all. Overall, girls who spend time in environments such as that of Teen Voices tend to feel more comfortable to be themselves.

“It’s a great place to go where you know you’ll never be judged,” said Talia, a teen in the editorial mentoring program. “It’s easier to be open [without boys around] and everyone you talk to is going through the same stuff.”

Adriana and Wendy, also in the program, like the break from an environment influenced by boys. “You get enough of being around [boys] at school,” said Adriana. “There’s less drama [in an all-girls’ space], because [the drama] usually circulates around boys, and [here], we’re free to say what we want,” Wendy said.   

There are many famous women who are vocal about what they gained from attending a single-sex school:  Hilary Clinton, Gabby Giffords, and Madeleine Albright, to name a few. Journalist Katie Couric, politician and former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, and Elizabeth Cady Stanton, a leader of the women’s movement, were educated at all-girls schools as well.

A single-sex space allows a girl to explore new possibilities, learn about herself and others in a less pressured environment, and apply those discoveries into action! Maybe a girl will learn she likes and excels in science, and end up curing cancer. A young woman might join a basketball team and go on to play in the Olympics. In the right space, anything is possible!

For more information on girls’ schools, visit the National Coalition for Girls’ Schools at www.ncgs.org or the National Association for Single Sex Public Education at: http://www.singlesexschools.org/.

Voice Your Verse ‘n’ Open Your Purse!

By Janette Santos, Editorial Intern

Are you a poet? Well you’re in luck because April is National Poetry Month! To coincide with this annual celebration of the written art form, She’s the First launched their “Voice Your Verse” campaign. She’s the First is a nonprofit focused on getting American girls involved in raising funds to sponsor the education of girls in developing countries. The campaign aims to raise $10,000 by publishing an anthology of poetry called If the World Were my Classroom.  She’s the First promises that “100% of proceeds from the anthology, published during National Poetry Month in April, will sponsor girls’ education in Kenya, Tanzania, India, and Nepal.”

In March of 2011, She’s the First founder/president Tammy Tibbetts and Hannah Brencher, creator of MoreLoveLetters.com, decided to combine their love of poetry and social media with their passion for girls’ education. Now in its second year, this year’s campaign began in February and will last 90 days, over the course of which She’s the First invites students to host their own She’s the First Open Mic Night to raise more money, and awareness for the project. The campaign will culminate in a spoken-word event in NYC on April 17.

Besides helping to sponsor girls’ education, She’s the First provides several other great reasons to participate and contribute to the Voice Your Verse campaign—the education of girls has greater implications beyond gender equality. Research consistently shows that educating girls and encouraging them to work outside the home raises the economic output and stability of a country.  In terms of the economy, maternal education is linked to lowered maternal mortality rates as well as improved hygiene standards; thus, promoting the education of girls can incite widespread effects. Did you know that approximately 1 in 7 girls are wed before the age of 15 in developing countries, and they often suffer complications or death from pregnancy? In fact, pregnancy is the leading cause of death for young girls between the ages of 15 and 19, and it has been shown that girls who stay in school longer have fewer children and marry later.

To find out more information about the campaign, and contribute to the cause, you can visit http://www.shesthefirst.org/poetry/ or http://www.shesthefirst.org/2012/04/poetryanthologygirlsponsorships/.

Photos courtesy of She’s the First.

Scholarships, Adventures, and Coastal Studies

Guest post by Coastal Studies for Girls

Photos courtesy of Coastal Studies for Girls

Summer is winding down and there’s a nip in the air at dawn.  For most of us, the coming of fall means the heading back to school and restarting familiar routines.  Wake up, grab your backpack, go to school, take a test, write an essay, stare at the clock, and wait for the final bell. Repeat Monday through Friday.

Fall approaching may feel like the end of adventure after a summer of fun and freedom.  Or maybe you’ve worked really hard all summer and you are wishing you’d had more time for fun.  But what if you could do something really amazing and unusual for school this year?

Do you have a love for learning and discovery, an adventurous spirit, and a desire to challenge yourself?  If so, you may be a Coastal Studies girl.

Coastal Studies for Girls (CSG) is the country’s first residential science and leadership semester school for 10th grade girls.  Located in Freeport, Maine, students from public, independent and home-schooled backgrounds from all over the U.S. spend a semester at this unique residential program.  CSG features a marine science and leadership curriculum, while also offering classes in the core subjects of English, math, history and foreign language.

CSG has an unexpected opening for their Fall 2011 semester starting August 28 through December 17, 2011.  A full scholarship is available for this life-changing opportunity. Whether exploring the inlets and islands in kayaks, studying the rich natural history of Maine, or researching tide pools, CSG is for the adventure seeking and intellectually curious.

Still not sure if CSG is for you? Here’s what one recent student said about her experience, “Being part of Coastal Studies for Girls allowed me to reflect on who I am, what I value, and what direction I want to take in life. I think in new ways and push my comfort zone to its very limit knowing that it is even ok to make mistakes.  I’ve learned about my own self-reliance and confidence, and it has given me a better sense of community. Living with other girls has shown me the value of respect, leadership, kind speech and other values that are necessary for living together.”

Any 10th grade girl interested in applying must contact Contact Tara Treichel, education director, at 207-865-9700 or tara@coastalstudiesforgirls.org as soon as possible. You could be off on this exciting adventure in just 2 weeks!!  For more application information: click here!

NEDA

NEDA, or the National Eating Disorders Association, was born in 2001 when two of the biggest organizations dealing with eating disorders and providing support to victims, families, and friends of eating disorders (EDAP – Eating Disorders Awareness and Prevention, and AABA – American Anorexia and Bulimia Association) merged and became one single organization.  NEDA’s mission statement is to:  “support individuals and families affected by eating disorders, and serve as a catalyst for prevention, cures, and access to quality care.” Recently, NEDA celebrated its 10th anniversary with a benefit dinner to raise money for its various programs.

NEDA defines an eating disorder as “extreme emotions, attitudes, and behaviors surrounding weight and food issues.”  The three most commonly recognized eating disorders are Anorexia Nervosa, Bulimia Nervosa, and Binge Eating Disorder.  Anorexia Nervosa is typically characterized by “self-starvation and excessive weight loss.”  Bulimia Nervosa usually includes cycles of binging and then purging to eliminate the calories from the binge.   Binge Eating Disorder is similar to Bulimia Nervosa, but does not include the purging part of the cycle – it is episodic binge eating.  It is easy for people to feel locked into these destructive cycles, and that is what NEDA strives to stop.

Artwork by Gracie Gralike, 19 Missouri
 

NEDA wants Americans to know that eating disorders do not just affect women and girls−they affect everyone, from all walks of life−people of all colors, genders, and sexual orientations.  Statistics on NEDA’s website claim that “as many as 10 million females and 1 million males are fighting a life-and-death battle with an eating disorder such as anorexia or bulimiaMillions more are struggling with binge eating disorder.”  These numbers are extremely high and NEDA is working proactively to reduce and, hopefully one day, eliminate these disorders.  NEDA provides many resources on its website to help people feel good about their bodies.  Check out their “Twenty Ways to Love Your Body” article here!

NEDAwareness Week is one of NEDA’s biggest events to raise awareness about the prevalence of eating disorders in the United States, and to combat them through education.  This year, NEDAwareness week was at the end of February.  It’s not too early to plan an Awareness week at your school and NEDA makes it super easy!  Check out their planning guide here.  You can also read a cool article about what one student at Hamilton College did to celebrate the week and make her friends more aware of the stigmas surrounding eating disorders and unrealistic expectations of ‘the perfect body’ at the Huffington Post.

There are tons of other ways to get involved with NEDA if you feel strongly that eating disorders should be eliminated from society.  You can apply to intern, participate in a NEDA Walk, or get involved with NEDA’s Junior Board!

What do you think about NEDA’s mission?  What can Teen Voices do to better send the message to all girls that they are perfect just the way they are?  Let us know in the comments section below!  To read more about what our teen editors have to say about the pressure to be perfect, check out this article on your website!

We can’t get enough of The Girl Effect’s videos!

Here’s another powerful video from The Girl Effect. Check it out!

How the Clinton Global Initiative Is Empowering Girls and Women

By editorial assistant Lauren Castner

The Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) was started in 2005 by former President Bill Clinton.  Each year there is a meeting to determine the initiatives and commitments to action CGI members will undertake for the coming year.  Since 2005, thanks to the commitments of various businesses, nonprofit organizations, and heads of state, more than 200 million lives have been touched in 170 countries.

CGI is currently meeting in New York City and their 6th annual meeting wraps up today.  One of the areas of focus for CGI is Empowering Girls and Women.  On Tuesday, a new commitment was announced by Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton: the Alliance for Clean Cookstoves.  The aim of this initiative is to cut down the toxic emissions from many of the stoves that women and girls use to cook meals for their families.  The goal by 2020 is to put cleaner stovetops in 100 million homes by 2020.

The Clinton Global Initiative premiered a new video for GirlEffect on Tuesday.  GirlEffect is an organization that is creating change by educating more and more 12-year-old girls who are living at or below the poverty line.  By doing so, GirlEffect hopes to stop the cycle of early pregnancy and marriage, continued impoverishment, and HIV/AIDS contraction for subsequent generations of 12-year-old girls.

Tuesday also featured a panel moderated by Katie Couric composed of Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, the president of Liberia, Muhtar Kent, CEO of Coca-Cola, and Queen Rania Al Abdullah, Queen of Jordan.  The panel focused on initiatives that would provide economic opportunities for women and educational opportunities that have arisen in Jordan where more women attend university than men now.

To get involved or learn more about GirlEffect or CGI, check out girleffect.org or MyCommitment.org.

Drama-Free High School

By:  Jocelyn Perez

You might think drama-free meant gossip-free. Well, that’s definitely not the case. I meant Drama Club free. Schools are experiencing huge budget cuts. In my high school this means no drama club, no substitute teachers and new, fun teachers getting fired.

After school activities are some of the first things to be cut when schools are running low on dough. This has a huge impact on teens. Activities let us be productive but without them we might turn to other useless things or bad influences on the street.

Not only are activities being cut but substitute teachers aren’t being hired. It might seem like a treat to miss class whenever your teacher is sick and not have a substitute teacher. But it’s not so sweet in the long run when you have to make up the work and rush everything in class when the teacher comes back. The workload builds up and it becomes overwhelming all because your school can’t afford a substitute.

The new, fun, cool teachers getting fired because of budget cuts is ridiculous. Just because they have only been there a little while doesn’t mean you should make them leave. Why keep the older teachers that are boring?

Why doesn’t the government cut budgets in places other than schools? This is the future of America we’re talking about!

Sorry to leave you guys, I have to go read eleven chapters of Great Expectations because my teacher has great expectations of being absent on Friday!