What is the mark of a strong leader?
Is it the ability to inspire, and transform? The ability think strategically and possess a peerless view of the future? The ability to calm, listen and unite during challenging times? Ample reserves of confidence, integrity, fearlessness and grit? These are all important qualities to consider when assessing one’s capacity for leadership.
One factor that should not be in consideration? The gender of the leader.
Regardless of political affiliation, many have expressed frustration over the seeming dearth of strong, capable leaders in our country, and the world at large. This watershed moment in our nation’s history presents a remarkable opportunity. The perceived leadership void that currently exists is actually paving the way for the next generation of visionaries prepared to boldly assume the mantle of leadership. We must unite in the quest to expand leadership development for girls and young women—across race, class, and beyond. Indeed, providing ever more girls with comprehensive, relevant leadership development opportunities will prove crucial to the vibrancy of tomorrow.
At Girl Scouts, we understand that before we can effectively address the leadership crisis for girls, we must first connect with under-served and underrepresented girls in a relevant and authentic way, one that speaks to acknowledging—and overcoming—their adversity. To cite just a few sobering statistics, according to The State of Girls, a recent report released by the Girl Scout Research Institute, in 2015, 19 percent of girls ages 5 to 17 lived in poverty, compared to 17 percent in 2007. And in 2015, a higher proportion of high school girls seriously considered suicide (23%), compared with girls in 2007 (19%). And with 2017 off to a bit of a precarious start on all fronts, the effect on girls and their overall health, happiness, and achievement has hardly improved. It’s understandable that when you’re mired in despair, it can color your worldview, leaving you disillusioned about the extent of your own potential.
The greater truth is this: We cannot hope to flourish as a society by dismissing the promise represented in half of our population. We see talented women who contribute their intelligence, passion, and expertise across the spectrum—and we need more. Girls represent a vital, underutilized and untapped resource of remarkable potential that can―and must―be harnessed to the full benefit of humanity.
At the Girl Scouts of NYPENN, we understand that before we can effectively address the leadership crisis for girls, we must first connect with those who are underserved and underrepresented in a relevant and authentic way, that speaks to acknowledging—and overcoming—their adversity. Conclusively, statistics show that wherever girls are thriving in the United States, the Girl Scout Movement is strong and impactful. Our comprehensive programming instills the integral skills that ensure girls are well-equipped to navigate interpersonal and professional arenas. And we approach this responsibility with the dedication it deserves, offering girls a foundation for leadership development through our STEM and leadership training initiatives.
In short, we’re on the cusp of ushering in a leadership renaissance for girls, nurturing and elevating the next generation of female leaders who will leave an indelible imprint on our nation and our world. And when you really contemplate what that means for the health of our global society, it’s staggering.
We need society at large to invest in girls—in a greater, more sustained capacity. And for a movement to reach the height of its impact, it must embrace allies outside the fold. We need our brethren-in-arms, our male counterparts who offer their unwavering support—in deeds and donations—and are integral to sustaining our cause for the long haul.
Now as an organization, we sincerely appreciate all of the ongoing support through the purchase of our delicious and iconic Girl Scout Cookies. However, those sales represent a mere fraction of the funding needed to provide the kind of in-depth, nurturing and proven programming our girls need to grow and thrive. We all can demonstrate our personal and organizational leadership by making an impact today and investing in our future.
Your investment now is the fuel that propels our girls towards leadership greatness tomorrow.
Ultimately, the leadership gap in America is not a girls’ issue or a women’s issue―it’s our issue.
You can help invest in girls by joining our Family Partnership Program