Girls Can – co-operating to support young women

‘jobs can be a big thing when you are a girl because everyone wants you to go in to hair dressing or health and social care.’ young woman from Platform 51 (YWCA)

In a society which hyper sexualises women, where the pay gap and leadership gap still exists between men and women, and where there is a lack of public, positive female role models, Kathleen Cronin identified a need to help girls to identify who they are and what their ambitions are.

Kathleen started the GirlsCan Project in 2010 based on a strong belief that all girls should have access to support to become confident, resilient, independent and fulfilled young women.

With a career history of helping young people to have a voice, and professional training and qualifications, Kathleen identified coaching as the ideal tool for sustainable learning. With so much investment in developing person centred career and personal development in the executive world, Kathleen saw an opportunity to adapt the principles and processes of coaching into a format that girls can relate to.

GirlsCan (a project of Ignite Leadership Community Interest Company), empowers girls to take control of their own futures through combining inspirational ‘real’ women role models and coaching courses for girls. The combination of positive female role models and coaching programmes designed to help girls reach their full potential has a lasting impact. Girls find the answers within and develop tools and techniques to keep their learning real and alive in an on-going way.

Inspirational Role Models
GirlsCan enables role models, both online and in a workshop format, to share their story with girls. All our role models are plain speaking, open and honest about their journeys, successes, failures, insecurities and their approach to challenges. Girls are highly motivated to hear about the lives of women they can relate to, women who they could run into at the shops or sit across from on the bus. Hearing about women’s lives empowers girls to look at and say ‘I could achieve something similar in 10 years, if she can do it so can I’.

Aspire to Achieve Programme
‘Aspire to Achieve’ builds on the positive messages shared by role models and supports girls to develop their self-knowledge and boost their self-belief in a safe group with other young women and an experienced coach. The programme enables girls to explore future options and offers a toolkit of personal skills to help them navigate their futures past the end of the programme. Not only do GirlsCan Coaches deliver the programme directly, the organisation is also able to train and support teachers, youth workers and charity workers to deliver the programme themselves.

The Team
GirlsCan has faithful supporters from all over the UK who are inspired by the project, but Carmen Mardiros and Debra Carter were so inspired by the project that they committed to become part of the core team.
Carmen’s motivation to join GirlsCan came from reaching a point in her life where running hobby and commercial websites, though successful at it, no longer brought a sense of fulfilment and satisfaction. Having become successful in an occupation largely dominated by men, Carmen felt inspired to get involved in GirlsCan. Carmen’s dedication to producing the website has enabled a significant increase in the profile of the organisation’s work. So much so, that it was the first contact that Debra Carter had with the organisation.

Debra had set up a business as a Coach but was keen to specialise in working with socially disadvantaged girls and women. Debra describes finding the GirlsCan website as a ‘lightbulb moment’ and she just knew she wanted to get involved.

The Future
GirlsCan wants as many girls and young women to have access to our role models and programmes as possible. We will be working to further develop training for teachers and youth workers to deliver our programmes and we aim to provide more role models and resources online for teachers, youth workers, parents and girls to access.

Kathleen is currently taking some maternity leave, but please contact Debra with any questions or comments


GirlsCan Guiding Principles

  1. Girls are smart, resourceful and creative and are able to make positive life choices based on good information.
  2. Helping girls to develop knowledge about themselves, emotional resilience (toughness) and self-belief, will enable them to make the best choices for them.
  3. Helping girls to develop those skills will equip them to live life to their fullest potential, now and in the future.
  4. Positive role models can make girls and young women feel better about themselves and what they are capable of achieving.
  5. For girls who don’t have positive female role models in their immediate lives, they don’t have access to any female role models except for celebrities.
  6. Role models don’t have to be famous, often the post powerful role models are ones that girls can relate to and see similarities with themselves.
  7. Role models should be honest about their experiences, that way we can learn from their experiences and how they dealt with challenges and mistakes.

2 Comments on Girls Can – co-operating to support young women

  1. A brilliant concept and strategy. I don’t want to rain on the parade but I do wish that were as many motivated and pioneering people for young men. I know that sports starts do some work and there are inner city programs but us blokes could learn a lot from inspiring women such as these.

  2. KeshaSparks // July 11, 2011 at 11:01 am // Reply

    Hey this is really a nice article also quite an informative one, liked reading it out as it seemed to be specifically women oriented with regards to the women workforce in the society…

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