EMPOWERED GIRL – EMPOWERED WORLD CONFERENCES
World renowned human rights activist and CNN Hero Award Winner, Betty Makoni, flew in from the U.K. for the event, sharing her own powerful story of empowerment. Girls and boys from four schools participated in the event by performing poems, singing, dancing, performing plays, and speaking – all items were structured around the theme of girls’ empowerment. There were also a number of video messages from powerful men and women worldwide about various facets of empowerment. Many girls and audience members were, for the first time, exposed to a global perspective regarding girls’ empowerment.
The success of the day was in the lasting impact it made, with a woman speaking out for the first time about the fact that she had endured abuse. One audience member, a teacher, decided to get involved and in 2013 became a Power Circle facilitator. In 2015 she began leading her own Power Circle independently and to date, the Power Circle has expanded tremendously. Two years after this conference, another woman who had been in the audience that day, helped a family member to leave an abusive marriage – she had said that she knew exactly what she needed to do for this relative because of all she had learned at Empowered Girl – Empowered World.
In 2013, the conference was an even bigger success with girls and boys from seven schools participating. The youngest participant was a seven year old girl. The Empowered Girl – Empowered World conferences have since evolved, based on the needs of the girls and the community, however, this important dialogue has opened doors to many community outreach activities to empower girls and create change, both in Newcastle, and through the ripple effect, in South Africa.
At these conferences, it has been an enriching experience for girls and community members alike to experience how girls from different schools and different cultural and socio-economic groups are able to work together in a mature way with healthy mutual respect and the desire for one another to be successful. They have been and are a model of how unity creates strength and how cultural diversity is an asset – a model of how any country should function.
I am so grateful to have had the opportunity to share at the “Empowered Girl – Empowered World Conference” in Newcastle in 2013. It was heart-warming to see the enthusiasm and involvement of the girls aged from about seven to late teens. Leave No Girl Behind sets the bar for young women in the making to know their power and to rise above the challenges they face in this crazy world.
~ Nicolette Lodge, author and speaker