Girls Empowerment Month

MVA_9559Evoking the icon that is Rosie the Riveter, thousands of girls and women are literally and figuratively rolling up their sleeves and declaring “We can do it!” as Los Angeles County observes “Girls Empowerment Month.”

On a motion by Supervisors Mark Ridley-Thomas and Hilda Solis, the Board of Supervisors proclaimed October as Girls Empowerment Month to encourage girls and women to break down barriers to their success and to focus critical attention on gender inequality.

“A lot has changed for the better over the past century but, just as there is much to celebrate, there remains much to be troubled about,” Supervisor Ridley-Thomas said.

MVA_9919“Nationally, women remain greatly underrepresented in business, construction, manufacturing, science, technology, engineering, math and public service leadership positions,” he added. “We know, however, that when barriers are lifted, girls and women aggressively pursue their educations and engage in civic activities.

During Girls Empowerment Month, County agencies, nonprofit organizations and the business community have committed to offering and supporting programs that educate, employ and empower girls and women throughout October and beyond.

The Los Angeles Fund for Public Education (LA Fund) will launch Girls Build LA, which challenges teams of high school girls to design and implement community-based solutions that can effect widespread change in the areas of education, civic engagement, and health and wellness. The most creative and impactful will receive scholarships and other prizes.

“It’s exciting to give them a voice,” LA Fund founder Megan Chernin said. “It’s going to unleash their ideas.”

To kick off “Girls Build LA,” LA Fund recently hosted the West Coast premiere of He Named Me Malala before an audience of more than 6,000 girls and at the Microsoft Theater at LA Live. 

The documentary tells the story of Malala Yousafszai, a Pakistani activist who, at age 14, survived an assassination attempt by the Taliban for daring to go to school. At age 17, she became the youngest person to be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, and has become the most recognizable advocate for the education of girls and women worldwide.

The County’s Fire Department and Metropolitan Transportation Authority are also implementing programs that open doors for girls and women. So are the Department of Parks and Recreation and the Commission for Women.

“It’s important to let young women know that there is a potential career for them in the fire service,” Fire Chief Daryl Osby said. “We need to engage them and mentor them, so that maybe one day they can join the ranks of the Fire Department.”