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I'm Glad I'm a Girl Foundation empowers females

Published:Thursday | December 27, 2018 | 12:00 AMVanessa James/Gleaner Writer
Girls participate in I'm Glad I'm A Girl summer camp last year.

Females are faced with difficulties on a daily basis. Many of these issues could have been avoided however, with the proper guidance and teachings from their parents and guardians.

The I'm Glad I'm a Girl Foundation is located on the all-female residence at the University of the West Indies, Mona, seeks to correct and prevent some of the difficulties by targeting teens and educating them.

Nadeen Spence, the student services development manager (SSDM), Mary Seacole Hall, explains the foundation's aim: I'm Glad I'm a Girl is a foundation dedicated to educating teens ages 13 to 17 about the sexual and reproductive health of the female body, like what to expect, the changes that will take place, among other things. We also teach them about sexual activity - about being ready and empowering them to not engage in anything until they are sure they are ready."

The foundation is eight years old and has been making strides in empowering female teens through a number of endeavours, such as an annual summer camp that lasts for a week where young ladies are not only educated, but encouraged and inspired. The members of the foundation try to touch on all aspects of a teen's life.

"At the summer camps, we host approximately 44 to 50 young ladies, and we have workshops and seminars that can sometimes become candid in nature. We try to break the myths and taboos about the female and go as far as explaining how and why they should protect themselves from sexually transmitted diseases. We also show them the importance of education, why staying in school is important. Motivational speakers are invited just to give the girls a pep talk, and others would come and talk about investment and savings. A formal dinner is also held during the week, along with a sports day, just to add some fun in the list of activities," Spence stated.

The foundation visits schools during the academic year. Additionally, community visits are done to build the knowledge base of campers. Recently, the foundation held the Seacole Safe Space during November as part of its 16 days of activities aimed at ending violence against women. This safe space was created to help women overcome and break the silence of abuse they have encountered, in turn influencing other females to speak up and speak out.


School launch


In order to continue their good work and reach more females, the foundation wants to launch the I'm Glad I'm A Girl club in high schools. "I wanted to get the young women of Mary Seacole involved in volunteering and concerned with mentoring and leading a culture of helping, and that's how the foundation was created. Now, we want to launch clubs in high schools, and come January, we will be starting this project at Lacovia High School and Green Pond High School, just to start," the SSDM stated.

In order to reach as many females as possible, funding is necessary, and Spence explained that it is difficult to find sponsors to help female agencies. In the past, I'm Glad I'm a Girl has received sponsorship from FRIDA - The Young Feminist Fund, a Latin American fund run by young feminists who support and establish other emerging feminist organisations. While others may not give cash, they donate kind to the summer camp. Otherwise, the ladies of Mary Seacole Hall have to find creative ways to garner income to help run the foundation.

According to Spence, the ladies of the hall work hard to ensure the constant and issue-free running of the foundation, more so between May and August, when the summer camp takes place. She commends them for their effort because I'm Glad I'm a Girl would not be successful without their help. You can visit the foundation's Instagram page, @mshgladgirl, to see what the ladies have been up to and to see if you would like to support the cause.