Why Mentoring Young Women and Girls is Important

Written by Tabby Biddle

photo by Amy Tierney/f8f11 Images

You’ve been hearing it everywhere from the United Nations to The New York Times:  when we support the growth and empowerment of women and girls, we raise the quality of life for everyone. This is because when women lead, they not only lead businesses, but they lead in their community, they fight for their children, and they give voice to issues that are important to our collective future – like education and health care. Makes sense to me.

But how do we get there?

There are a couple of organizations that I have learned about recently that are going in at the ground level and supporting girls and young women in underserved communities through the practice of mentorship.

The first is Step Up Women’s Network.

Through Step Up young women are given mentors who encourage their ambition, empower their confidence, and keep them on track by helping them set goals and work toward achieving them.

Step Up Women's Network Executive Director, Jenni Luke photo by Maya Meyers

“These girls are smart – they are capable – and what they need is you. You are their role models, you are their mentors, you are their inspiration,” said Jenni Luke, executive director of Step Up, to a ballroom full of Step Up supporters last week at the 7th Annual Step Up Inspiration Awards in Los Angeles.

Many of the young women who Step Up supports come from gang neighborhoods and families torn apart by drugs, alcohol, and abuse. Kara Isreal, this year’s Step Up Teen scholarship recipient, is one such student. “I looked forward to Tuesdays because I knew I was going to be in a stable environment for an extra two hours after my school day. Step Up offered me refuge in programs such as Spoken Word and Poetry where I was able to write down all my feelings, kept in a place no one could criticize, grade or comment about,” she wrote in a personal essay.

With the help of Step Up, Kara is beating the horrifying statistic: one in three

Kara Isreal, photo by Maya Meyers

Los Angeles high school students is dropping out of school. She won’t be one of them. In the fall Kara will be attending Bethune-Cookman University in Daytona Beach, Florida. “I have escaped the dark place that they call the jungle, survived abuse, and am optimistic about all of the brighter birthdays I will celebrate in the future,” says Kara.

Another organization mentoring young women that I want to talk about is Global Girl Media.

Global Girl Media is training young women to become the future generation of female citizen broadcast journalists.  Their focus is, like Step Up, on girls in underserved communities – but they are global as they name suggests.

Global Girls, South Africa

Right now they are training 20 girls in Soweto, South Africa to be broadcast journalists to speak out about the issues that affect them most. As they report on the 2010 FIFA World Cup soccer tournament in June, being hosted by South Africa, the girls will be telling the stories that never get told. Some of the topics they will be covering include: gender justice and reproductive rights, girls and leadership, HIV/AIDS, health, educational and career opportunities for women and girls.

“Can you imagine in 10 years if we were to have 50 Global Girl Media news bureaus operating in the most economically disadvantaged places in the world, and those girls connect and form a network of support, education, and power? Well, suddenly we really are affecting change,” said Global Girl Media program director Kamala Lopez in an interview on Thursday.

There are many young women and men in this upcoming generation who are extremely compassionate, extremely globally aware, and who want to participate in making the world a better place. However, for the youth in countries and communities affected by war, disease and poverty who have been unable to take part in the new media revolution, this has made it virtually impossible for their voices to be heard. Global Girl Media is on a mission to change this.

Organizations like Step Up and Global Girl Media are leading the way in empowering and inspiring our next generation of leaders.

“With my success I hope to reach down and help the women behind me. We have the power to rise above our circumstances. We have the power to break down barriers and crush all statistics that rise against us. We are women of manner and nobility,” says Kara Isreal.

By reaching out to mentor a girl or young woman, you can change her life and put everyone’s future in good hands.

To learn more, visit:

Step Up,  www.suwn.org

Global Girl Media, www.globalgirlmedia.org

Tabby Biddle, M.S. Ed., is a writer and editor dedicated empowering the voices of women and girls. Her work has appeared in The Huffington Post, The Los Angeles Times, USA Today, and other national media. She lives in Santa Monica, CA with her husband.

Gabrielle Bernstein is Goddess of the Week!

My Interview with Gabrielle Bernstein

by Tabby Biddle

“I’ve overcome drug addiction, love addiction, food addiction, work addiction, you name it and I’ve recovered. Becoming the happiest person I know didn’t happen overnight. I did a lot of serious self-reflective work to get to this place. Man, was it worth it!”

Gabrielle Bernstein, founder of HerFuture.com

author of Add More ~ing to Your Life


Gabrielle Bernstein

T:  You are coming to LA next week to lead an event called “Know~ing Your Worth.” Tell me about that.

G:  The Know~ing Your Worth lecture focuses on a key principle to manifesting. I don’t teach people the tools for manifestation without getting them into “the know” first. Until you believe you are worthy of your desires you cannot fully receive them. This lecture focuses on amping up your belief system so that you can make your manifestations stick.

T: It’s so true — until we believe we are worthy of our desires we cannot fully receive them. What’s one method you use to help women amp up their belief system?

G:  D.P. & M. Daily prayer and meditation will get you into “the know.” Constant contact with your ~ing guides you to know that the Universe has your back.

T: What exactly is ~ing? I know you recently published a book called Add More ~ing to your life. Tell me more about that.

G:  ~ing stands for ‘inner guidance.’ By adding more ~ing we choose the voice of our inner guide over the voice of our fearful ego. In my book I am teaching that adding more ~ing leads us to happiness by choosing a better way to view our lives.

T: How did you get on this path?

G: Up until the age of twenty-five I was searching for happiness on the outside. I had a bad case of what I call the “when I haves.” For example, “When I have that next boyfriend then I’ll be happy.” Or, “When I have that new client then all be happy.” None of that worked. This outside search led me to hit a bottom at which point (at 25 years old) I chose to turn inward. I became a student of metaphysics and amped up my meditation practice. In addition, I got sober. I released the party girl mentality and became a metaphysics junky. Then I went into self-study mode. I read everything I could get my hands on. I became a student of A Course in Miracles and I began to reposition my fear back to love. I continue this on a daily basis. Most importantly I grew a deep meditation practice. This is what carries me today.

T: You mentioned becoming sober. What have been some of your other personal struggles?

G:  I’ve overcome drug addiction, love addiction, food addiction, work addiction, you name it and I’ve recovered. Becoming the happiest person I know didn’t happen overnight. I did a lot of serious self-reflective work to get to this place. Man, was it worth it!

T: So would you say that your ~ing helped you overcome these things?

G:  Yes, my connection to my ~ing is what has carried me through all of my obstacles. I’ve overcome all of these struggles with my steadfast journey inward. Today I know I am being guided and I can see all obstacles as opportunities.

T: I love that perspective of seeing all obstacles as opportunities. Can you say more about that in your life?

G:  Any time a situation doesn’t work out the way I planned I know it’s always because there’s something better on the way.

T:  What is your life is like today?

photo by sam bassett

G: As a result of turning my life around I have everything I’ve ever desired. I  practice the principles that I teach on a moment-by-moment basis. Therefore my life just flows. When I have difficult obstacles I know they are assignments and I just show up. My life rules today.

Today I am a motivational speaker, life coach and author. My mission is to spread this message to the masses and change lives by igniting one ~ing at a time. That was how I was guided to write Add More ~ing To Your Life.

T: Is there anything you still struggle with?

G:  Fear creeps in from time to time but I am grateful for that. My mini ego meltdowns keep me on my toes and connected to my work.

T: What do you mean by that?

G:  What I mean is that I still struggle with fearful thoughts from time to time. Rather than succumb to the fear, I use it as a road map to look inward and figure out what I still need to work on.

T:  Looking back now at “worth,” what advice can you offer a woman who wants take the first steps to knowing her worth?

G:  The first step towards knowing your worth is willingness. With the slightest willingness you’ll be guided to go deeper and believe in yourself. You’ll become clear on how you’re blocking your greatness and be willing to change.

T: So, how can women get more involved with the work you do?

G:  The best way for women to get more involved with my work is to join my site www.herfuture.com. This site is one of my greatest accomplishments. There are thousands of women helping one another and mentoring each other. The content on this site is based on love. It truly rules!

To learn more about my upcoming lectures you can visit www.addmoreing.com, and to download my guided meditations and lecture podcasts just type my name into iTunes.

T: Wonderful! Thank you Gabby.

* You can join Gabrielle at her event, Know~ing Your Worth, on Wednesday, April 28  in Los Angeles at The Standard Downtown LA, 550 S Flower St. Los Angeles CA, 90071. Get more details here.