GIRLS FORUM: R-E-S-P-E-C-T

February 10, 2009 posted by admin My first memory in life is of my mom holding me up as a human shield to try get my dad to stop beating her—possibly to stop from killing her. I was 2-years-old at the time. My book for young women, RESPECT: A GIRL'S GUIDE TO GETTING RESPECT AND DEALING WHEN YOUR LINE IS CROSSED (Free Spirit Publishing, 2005), was born out of a life riddled with disrespect. Like many girls and women I’ve met, I grew up in this home where domestic violence, addictions, incarceration, near poverty and "-isms" from racism to sexism were diminishing my family. But I was one of the lucky ones who discovered the many keys to breaking this cycle. Through following my passions, discovering my mission in life and getting help--among other Steps to Respect--I learned that respect is always within reach because true respect starts on the inside.  Now as I travel the country coaching girls and women, I hear a lot of stories just like mine. And as part of this work, I share with them an amazing video made by Jennifer Uribe, our 19-year-old program assistant at Respect Rx (a venture I founded last year). Jen's video includes powerful stats  that some girls have heard and some haven't, like: 

  • 1 in every 3 females worldwide has been abused during her lifetime.
  • 75% of girls with low self-esteem reported engaging in negative activities such as disordered eating, cutting, bullying, smoking, or drinking.
  • 1 in 5 teens who have been in a serious relationship report being hit, slapped or pushed by a partner.
  • 3 out of 10 girls become pregnant as a teen.

Some girls get angry. Some can't believe their ears. Some look around and start counting off who among them will become a stat. And most get fired up to make a change. Because despite progress in many areas, these stats show that girls and women are drowning in disrespect, which limits our potential, quality of life, and immeasurable contribution to our world. So we thought of a more powerful number that we're organizing ourselves around. What if the 900 million girls and young women around the world took a stand? To respect themselves, respect each other, and to spread respect for people? Can you picture what our world would be like then? We can. This is our mission at Respect Rx: To empower girls and women to change their worlds--inside and out. To make this happen, last year we created The Respect Rally . The Respect Rally is a four-hour event—followed by a 24-session curriculum (Respect: Keep It Going! Kit)—that inspires and equips girls with lasting respect-building skills. After attending the Rally:

  • 98% of girls understood the difference between respect and disrespect (up from 51% prior to attending the Rally).
  • 90% of girls respected each other as equals (up from 65%).
  • 82% felt equipped to make positive choices and act as role models (up from 42%).

You can hear from real girls who participated in a Rally and learn more by watching our video:  

Book a Respect Rally or Get Trained! from Respect Rx on Vimeo. Our mission is to spread this program around the globe by partnering with girl advocates, who can adopt the program and make it their own. We are kicking off trainings around the United States starting in April. By 2010, we aim to train 2,000 leaders to implement the Respect Rally program for 500 girls each:1 million girls in total reached. That is our first milestone.  But this is not about us. It's about creating safe spaces for girls to talk about what respect means to them and how they can spread respect for all. It's about them recognizing and naming disrespect and saying no. It's about them learning to trust their gut, set boundaries and speak up. It's about them truly believing that all girls--all people--deserve respect.  We believe this change can only happen in partnership with girls. We bring 20% of the goods by creating the space and providing some structure with the Respect Rally format. Girls bring 80% of the content (and magic) with their stories, respectful listening and ideas for social change. Because when we ask girls to define the Steps to Respect, they never need any help from us. They get it. Now it's about us showing them how to spread it. And that means that we--girl advocates--must want for ourselves what we want for girls: Respect. --Courtney Macavinta is founder and CEO of Respect Rx and co-author of RESPECT: A GIRL'S GUIDE TO GETTING RESPECT AND DEALING WHEN YOUR LINE IS CROSSED (Free Spirit Publishing, 2005) This post is part of a forum.


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