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Empowering Women & Girls Around the World Through Stories of Heart-Aligned Leadership

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1043999_682261901789930_1067197902_nThis collaborative writing project began with a challenge, a conversation and an opportunity.  It also began with the reminder that as mothers, we are our daughter’s first and most important role model for what it means to be a female in this world

In the spring of 2013, my ten year old daughter and I each faced a significant challenge and setback that collectively provided rich fodder for introducing her to the subject of women’s empowerment, global development and what it means to live one’s voice out loud.

In the wake of these challenges, we watched live streaming interviews with Sheryl Sandberg, talked about women’s suffrage, and explored how and why women and girls are still denied equal access to education, opportunity and/or pay.  We talked at length about honoring ourselves, our voice and our talents, and finding the courage to stand up for ourselves and others, too. Most significantly, we talked about character as a catalyst for empowerment and how every female, regardless of age, culture, religious or socio-economic status, should be entitled to the basic human right to live her voice out loud and become a leader in her own life.

As I watched her study my face, anxious to offer ideas to help, I soon realized that how I responded to my own challenge could profoundly impact, influence and shape how she would respond to her own.

I could choose to stand up (or sit on the bench).  I could choose personal accountability (or view myself as a victim).  I could exercise my voice (or remain silent).  I could mindfully act, turning a challenge into an inspiring opportunity (or thoughtlessly react, while sucking on a bitter lemon).

The choice was mine.  The impact was ours.  And out of that moment this project was born.

Over time, what initially began as a mother-daughter project, evolved into a deeper community conversation about how women lead, what it means to live and lead from a heart-aligned place, and how each of us can develop the capacity to become leaders in our own lives, irrespective of age, culture, religious or socio-economic status.

While this project focuses on empowerment from within, anchored by core values that are universal in nature, the Global Girls Project supports global literacy initiatives and improving access to education for women and girls. We recognize that education and empowerment are integrally linked, and that as we grow in both knowledge and belief in ourselves, our confidence, capacities and competencies to become leaders in our own lives increase immeasurably.

Based on the United Nations Millennial Development Goal of promoting gender equality and women’s empowerment and sixteen defining principles of heart-aligned living and leadership, this project invites you to share stories and advice from your own journey toward empowerment and leadership.  The goal of this project is to create a global collection of stories that not only inspire and uplift, but encourage and empower others to find their own voice, too, passing on the legacy of leadership from one generation of women to the next.

Thanks for sharing in the journey!

Sharon

Note:  Proceeds from any future publication of stories submitted will be donated to select NGOs that support women and girls’ empowerment and leadership development.

Sharon Reed serves as founder and chief empowerment officer of the Global Girls Project. With 14+ years of experience in sustainable global, economic and community development, she is a passionate about building bridges of understanding and empowering others to make a positive difference in the world – through innovation, connection, communication, collaboration, education & engagement. She is currently serving as facilitator for the inaugural KPMG LLP-CREW Charlotte Women’s Leadership Program, Becoming an Authentic Leader,  and most recently served as a communications/knowledge management consultant for UN Women’s EmpowerWomen.org and co-architect of EmpowerWomen.org’s #iamwoman campaign. A regular speaker and blogger on heart-based living and leadership and contributing author of three books: Inspiring Hope: One Story At A Time, Fly Like an Eagle, and From the Heart (compiled by Gary Doi), Sharon also served as co-editor of Stan Phelp’s best-selling book on organizational culture and employee engagement, What’s Your Green Goldfish. She lives in Davidson, NC with her two children, Michael and Allison. Visit Sharon at www.sharonereed.com, check out her blog at www.sharonereed.me, connect with her on Facebook or follow her on Twitter @sharonereed

Allison (Alli) serves as co-collaborator and chief inspiration officer of the Global Girls Project. She is passionate about art, saving the planet and all of the animals in it. Every day she continues to learn how to live her own voice out loud and hopes to be an inspiration to others.

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