This week the world celebrated the International Day of the Girl and it also happens to be Girl Empowerment Month in my city. As a result I was on the hunt for online communities where girls can connect and learn about women making a difference. I’m planning a female skateboarding event at my library and was encouraged to see websites like She Plays We Win that featured girl athletes sharing their stories. While there are a large amount of organizations and websites that support and empower young women in various disciplines like STEAM education, I chose to highlight three that I felt were engaging and entertaining.
Many libraries carry the publication New Moon Girls alongside other magazines like Muse and Girls’ Life. New Moon Girl Media sought to provide a safe online community minus the advertisements for its readers. Although the membership comes with a paid print subscription, there is still a lot of content available for free to non-members such as creative writing samples, articles, and message boards on topics like the recent California wildfires and Fighting Sexism with Sushi. The statement of purpose promotes respect for others and teaches users the permanence of what they post. It also makes clear that members can post original content and artwork that does not violate copyright (a librarian’s dream) and lists out COPPA’s Personal Identifiable Information Rules in a kid-friendly way. There’s also content designed for parents and adult allies of girls which features articles from experts in the field.
Who doesn’t love Amy Poehler? Honestly I was a little hesitant about any website tied to a celebrity, but I did agree with the Smart Girls’ focus on authenticity and material that supports education and creativity over “fitting in.” In 4th grade my outlet for discovering the world outside my small community was reading magazines at my local library. Since similar content has moved to the digital realm, Smart Girls is most reminiscent of what I was seeking as I moved towards adolescence. The site blends inspiring stories with the right amount of humor. In addition to current events, advocacy opportunities, and essays, there’s also a DIY section with videos on composting and spherification. I know a lot of my young patrons would value how to make glitter slime, alongside a feature on Aja Brown, Compton, California’s youngest mayor.
Advocacy at your fingertips! The United Nation Foundation’s Girl Up campaign trains and encourages young volunteers to fight for adolescent girls around the world who struggle for equal access to education, health resources, economic opportunities, and a life without violence. Girl Up provides an overview in their Advocacy 101 section and guides new volunteers on how to actively make their voices heard. One of the most impactful programs that I’ve ever hosted as a librarian was a monthly Roots & Shoots group, which is Jane Goodall’s youth service program to foster respect and compassion for humans, animals, and the environment. Sometimes libraries might be the only setting where youth in the community have an opportunity to be educated about issues and take action. What’s awesome about the Girl Up campaign is the Advocacy App which makes the process of contacting those in power pretty seamless. The app offers a calendar with important dates and celebrations, plus Lobby Day schedules based on your area. Most importantly it gives information on local representatives, formulates email templates, and gives talking points on specific issues.
All of these websites inspired me to think about how I am engaging and empowering the young women in my community. Since I work with two volunteer organizations that provide young female volunteers on a regular basis, it has also given me ideas for future projects and potential advocacy opportunities for the group.
Claire Moore works at the Manhattan Beach Library in the LA area and can be reached at email@example.com.