In the second of a two-part series commemorating International Women’s Day, it is exciting to report that Colorado will welcome women’s history and American icon, Gloria Steinem, to Denver on March 8, courtesy of The Blossom Project. Bringing in Steinem to speak at a special event at the Infinity Center in Glendale, The Blossom Project is not only celebrating International Women’s Day, but hoping to raise awareness about how great the need today for empowered young women and girls is.
Recent research done by The Blossom Project indicates:
- Just 27% of computer science jobs are held by women.
- Less than 4% of Fortune 500 companies are headed by female CEOs.
- The number of girls who dropped out of high school in Colorado last year totaled 5,400.
- Seven percent of national foundation funds go to programs that specifically support women and girls.
The Blossom Project
According to its website, the Blossom Project works with young women over a 3-year period and “uses a collaborative model to inspire high school girls in Colorado to create visionary change in their communities, country and around the globe. This is a learning, leadership, advocacy and philanthropy program, where girls identify issues that are important to them. Past issues have included teen dating violence, reproductive justice, media representation of girls, poverty and the cliff effect.
- Learning - girls do a deeper dive on the issues. The learning sessions are led by inspiring women leaders who are experts in their fields.
- Leadership - girls lead social change efforts, engaging their peers. An upcoming example is the "Bring a Boy" event, where girls are inviting boys and men to learn about violence against women, so that they can be allies in ending gender-based violence.
- Advocacy - girls create advocacy plans to address issues. For instance, during the 2013 Colorado legislative session, girls will partner with Planned Parenthood during their lobby day, to advocate for implementing comprehensive sex education in Colorado schools.
- Philanthropy - girls raise money to fund organizations that are working to address the issues that they have identified. The girls create funding applications, invite proposals, read and rank applications, conduct site visits and make funding decisions. Philanthropy is an important part of the program that teaches young activists about the importance of funding advocacy.
Colorado civic leader Roweena Naidoo
Roweena Naidoo founded The Blossom Project in 2012. Naidoo is originally from KwaZulu-Natal in South Africa, where she earned her Bachelor of Arts Degree. She holds a Master of Public Administration Degree from Baruch College (CUNY) in New York, and a Master of Global Studies Degree from the University of Denver. Naidoo is also currently a member of the board of directors of three prestigious community organizations helping Colorado women: the Women’s Lobby of Colorado, Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains and The Gathering Place. Previously she was Vice Chair of the board of directors of New Era Colorado. Naidoo was named the Director of Self-Sufficiency position at Mile High United Way in May 2013.
Said Naidoo on March 1, 2014,
“The Blossom Project has given me a glimpse into what the future holds…and it’s incredible. The committed, talented, extraordinary girls who go through this program are ready to make the world a better place for everyone. It is an honor to be able to bring in Gloria Steinem to speak to a local audience on March 8.”
The young women themselves
Emma, Khulan, Sydney and Sofia were all participants in 2013. Collaboratively, they have written the most recent entry, titled "The Stress We Face as Teenagers," in the blog of The Blossom Project. As evidenced tragically by the recent increase in number of shootings in schools in America, the young women begin their article,
“Teenagers in high school have some of the highest stress induced situations.” Indeed, The Blossom Project might have at least one or two important solutions to reducing violence and empowering young women today.
“We need to remember across generations that there is as much to learn as there is to teach.” - Gloria Steinem
“I think we are going to see this -- Steinem’s words -- come to life when she speaks here in Denver on March 8.”
American icon Gloria Steinem
Gloria Steinem is a writer and activist who has been involved in feminist and other social justice movements for more than 40 years. In Nov. 2013, President Obama awarded Steinem the country’s highest civilian honor, the Presidential Medal of Freedom, in what Steinem called “a medal for the entire women’s movement.” She will celebrate her 80th birthday in March.
To learn more about joining the audience to hear Steinem on International Women’s Day 2014, click here. Tickets are still available and questions from the community are welcome. I will be there and am looking forward to listening to Steinem’s take on the current status of women’s inequality in the United States.