By: Dana Graham, Girl Scout
On Tuesday, October 11, the Girl Scout Media Team made their way to Google Headquarters in Washington D.C. to cover and report upon the Memunatu Magazine’s International Day of the Girl event. Moderating the event was Nina Oduro, and panelists included Monica Jahan Bose, founder of Storytelling With Saris; Yawa Hansen-Quao, founder of the Leading Ladies Network; Katie Riley from She’s the First; and Laura Almonacid from BeGirl.
The event began with an introduction from Malika Saadar Saar, the Senior Counsel on Civil and Human Rights at Google. She explained that International Day of the Girl (IDotG) began in 2012 to celebrate girls and women. Then, Ms. Oduro began questions. Monica Jahan Bose began by describing Storytelling with Saris, explaining that it focuses in Bangladesh, but that, “it’s not supposed to be about Bangladesh. It’s sort of an extended metaphor by now.” The program encourages women and girls to write and to address women’s empowerment.
Yawa Hansen-Quao spoke next. Originally from Africa, she moved to the US when she was young. She said that she would like “to see an Africa and a world where woman are normalized as leaders, so you don’t have to say ‘she’s the first woman something,’ just, “she’s that.’” She also later explained that while women still do not have the same rights that men do, a perfect balance would be almost unachievable. “We live. We exist in a society that doesn’t always reflect the best of us,” she explained. When asked about advice for young women looking to pursue careers, she said not to “assume that you didn’t get this because they don’t like you. It’s easy to assume that,” and, “The biggest obstacle for [her] was having a thin skin.”
Next to speak was Katie Riley. Riley remembers that she wasn’t always taken seriously in the business world. “People would be like, ‘oh, you work for a charity, how cute,’” she reminisced. She further elaborated upon that comment by saying that the hardest thing for her was “being in the room, and being taken seriously.” When asked for advice, Riley recommended that one should always ”[be] 10 steps ahead of whoever.”
Finally, Laura Almonacid began. While describing that her self-confidence was always the hardest part for her. She explained that “everyone is born a leader. What makes you a leader, what makes you a good leader, is your self-confidence. Believing in yourself.“ Her advice when starting out was to, firstly, figure out yourself, and where you want to go. She also stresses that you should plant yourself where you want to be. Her last piece of advice was that though independence is great, one should not be afraid to ask for help when they need it.
Overall, the event was a great experience filled with interesting comments, thoughtful ideas and fascinating speakers. The event was a success in empowering young women to strive for their goals and to work for their dreams.