Column: Girls need our advice so let’s help them

A couple of weeks ago, my 13-year-old daughter took part in the Girls Empowerment Summit hosted in part by the city of San Antonio.

I was a tiny bit jealous.

I turned 13 in 1982, the year the Equal Rights Amendment failed ratification. I remember hearing people argue that women and men can never be equal because of reproductive differences while watching working moms do more housework than their husbands. I remember homemakers saying working women should be home taking care of their kids, and working moms saying homemakers should be supportive of those earning a place in the boardroom for their daughters. I remember being told a woman can do any job a man can do, then realizing that even though most of my teachers were women, most of the administrators in the schools I went to were men. And I remember wondering what it was all going to look like when I was old enough to call myself a woman.

There are still too many inequities, but it’s a different world for my daughter, a girl who owns a toolbox and watched Kamala Harris be sworn in as America’s Vice President. Many gender barriers have been eliminated, but girls of her generation still have challenges ahead of them.

That’s why girls need events like the Girls Empowerment Summit, a two-day event to help young women between the ages of 13 and 18 to build opportunities for the future. During a session called “Shattering Ceilings,” the girls were given advice from a corporate executive, a district judge and a poet laureate, all of whom were local women of color. They were given advice about helping others and building a sisterhood of women for support.

During another breakout session, they were coached on how to build their own presentation. There were sessions aimed at handling social media and on dating, which can be tricky and overwhelming for young women who are learning to become adults. Remember the devastation of the first heartbreak? The regret after the first wasted paycheck? The perpetual kicking of oneself after the first missed job opportunity?

In the spirit of preparing young women, this kind of event makes sense. There are too many things happening during the teen years, and any advice helps, especially when that advice comes from those who have already figured out the the way down the path. The resources exist, and it’s really just a matter of bringing the right people together, putting the women with the experience in the same room with the girls who will lead the way tomorrow.

We don’t know what it’s going to look like in 40 years, but we know where we’ve been. It’s something to think about, especially during Women’s History Month. Making this a yearly event would be a great service for San Antonio’s young women.

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