Posted by Tamara C Larson, Zone 28 Assistant Ambassador, Empowering Girls
Despite the many before us blazing trails and breaking through glass ceilings, girls and women today still face barriers and inequalities worldwide in health and education, employment opportunities and experience violence and poverty at much higher rates than men.
Rotary International President Shekar Mehta has made Empowering Girls one of his key Presidential Initiatives for this Rotary year.  What does it mean to empower girls? Supporting them to ensure their basic needs are met while working to break down systemic barriers to ensure we eliminate gender discrimination and inequality.
Working with clubs and Rotary districts across Zone 28, it has been inspiring to hear what clubs are already doing to Empower Girls; each service project, either locally or on an international scale, can be looked at through the lens of empowering girls. Many are already doing such important work to ensure girls basic needs are met and therefore can choose their own path in life through access to health care, education, income, and having independence.
Period poverty is only one example of a club service project that truly empowers girls; this is an issue, not only abroad, but here in Canada. In the north, menstrual hygiene products are very expensive and for some, they must choose between these products and essential items such as food or utility bills. This challenge is being tackled in our communities by Rotary and Rotaract clubs working together with community organizations to address this need for girls and women in their communities. Ensuring women have access to proper hygiene means they can go to work and school.
How can YOUR club empower girls? Each one of Rotary’s seven areas of focus aligns with Empowering Girls. When choosing YOUR club projects or looking at the many great initiatives you are already working on, think about how you can protect, empower, and create equity for girls:
  • Support access to health care and nutrition
  • Ensure access to water, sanitation, and hygiene resources
  • Prevent exploitation, neglect, and physical and emotional abuse
  • Supply menstrual health and hygiene resources
  • Provide access to basic education, skills training, and technology
  • Raise awareness of child labour, child marriage and human trafficking
  • Offer leadership development opportunities to girls: RYLA, club leadership roles in Interact and Rotaract and Rotary clubs
  • Mentorship programs
And, when you are working on your Empowering Girls projects, please share! Use the hashtag #EmpoweringGirls21 when posting on social media and be sure to put your completed projects on Rotary Showcase.
Want to learn more about Empowering Girls? Reach out to your Empowering Girls Zone Ambassadors. 
Tamara C Larson, , Cell (587) 783-8880