Today the world comes together to honor girls, our young women who have the potential to bloom and thrive and make a difference in their own lives and in the lives of others. Sometimes, though, a girl’s potential is thwarted. For that reason, the United Nations raises awareness of girls, their lives, and their struggles every October 11.
EmPOWER Girls: Before, During, and After Conflict
This year, the theme for International Day of the Girl is “Empower girls: before, during, and after conflict.” This is a important focal point indeed, for according to the UN, an adolescent girl somewhere in the world loses her live as the result of violence–every 10 minutes.
Sometimes the violence is related to war. Sometimes to some inhumane punishment. Sometimes, it’s abuse by a parent, boyfriend, or other person in the life of a girl.
Losing Elizabeth is a novel for adolescents in middle- and high school to help them see what an abusive relationship is like. It’s a vehicle for discussion to help empower girls to recognize all types of relationship abuse and remove themselves from a toxic, even violent, situation.
The curriculum Find Yourself. Keep Yourself. accompanies Losing Elizabeth. I’ve taken it into schools for a 12-week (once weekly) program and to libraries for a single afternoon program. The goal is to use the story and discussion to empower girls to
- Know the early warning signs of toxic behavior
- Recognize control tactics like isolation, manipulation, behaviors, and words
- Respond and act
- Know how to help a friend
- Know how to ask for help
Additionally, and most importantly, girls explore and come to know themselves, their relationship goals, their hopes, dreams, and plans, and more. For it is when girls and teens develop self-awareness that they are empowered to keep themselves rather than losing themselves to others, to abuse, to violence.
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