On International Day of the Girl Child, the Girl Scouts are giving $110,000 in scholarships to 10 Gold Award Girl Scouts who created innovations in menstrual health, STEM, human rights and mental health
These girls are going for the gold.
To celebrate the International Day of the Girl Child — a day that addresses the challenges that girls face and promotes empowerment — the Girl Scouts of the USA is unveiling this year’s roster of National Gold Award-winning individuals, the highest achievement a Girl Scout can earn. These leading young women have tackled pressing issues facing our country including: mental health education, human rights, girl’s interest in STEM and menstrual health resources.
One relentless young activist on the roster is Sarah Mercado from Troop #482 in Texas who set out to combat the statistic that girls can miss up to 20% of school a year during their periods due to the high cost or lack of menstrual products like sanitary pads. She traveled to rural Bolivia to organize workshops that taught girls, families and teachers how to sew washable pads.
“I wanted to go to actual communities and teach them how to make these washable menstrual pads as a sustainable solution,” Mercado 19, told Moneyish.
Managing periods is a major challenge for women around the world considering 2.3 billion people lack basic sanitation services, and just 27% of the population has hand washing facilities with water and soap at home.
Sarah visited cities like Santa Cruz de la Sierra in partnership with the Save the Children Fund, a non-profit that supports kids in developing countries, to work with homeless and underprivileged teens in workshops where she demonstrated how to repurpose absorbent materials, like a nylon umbrella top cut up and sewn into the waterproof bottom layer to make a pad. She also used flannel, cotton, fabric and snap buttons. To break the ice, she showed a YouTube video of called “The Beauty of Red,” which highlights a taboo-free way to talk about periods. She also stressed the importance of inviting fathers and brothers to participate in the workshop to destigmatize the conversation too.
“Progress is impossible unless both sides of the table come together,” Mercado said, adding: “That’s why I invited brothers and fathers. To normalize it.”
Women are often made to feel embarrassed or ashamed about their monthly menstrual cycles. Forty percent of women have experienced period-shaming, with one in five being targeted by comments from male friends, according to research. What’s more, 58% of women have felt a sense of embarrassment simply because they were on their period.
Other Girl Scout Gold Award recipients this year include Sakshi, from Northern California, who worked with Amnesty International and Girls Learn International to learn more about gender-based violence. She was motivated to combat issues of human trafficking and child marriage and created Project GREET (Girl Rights: Engage, Empower, Train) to distribute documentary films and a training curriculum to educate people. And Selina, from Atlanta worked hard to champion for girls interested in STEM by developing free workshops like coding seminars to promote girls’ education and innovation in science and technology. Her events reached more than 7,000 girls aged 10 to 13 and she created a STEM toolkit for elementary educators in six languages.
“With their incredible aspirations, innovative problem solving, and risk-taking spirit, these girls are exactly the kind of employees 21st-century companies are looking for,” said GSUSA CEO Sylvia Acevedo in a statement. “They are well on their way to becoming the business leaders, activists, scientists, entrepreneurs, policymakers, and artists who will build our collective future.”
There are 2.6 million Girl Scouts today and studies show that participating in Girl Scouts and earning the Gold Award — the equivalent of a Boy Scout’s Eagle Award — are linked to developing crucial leadership skills and advanced awards and achievements. What’s more, Girl Scouts are more than twice as likely than other girls to identify and solve problems in their communities.
The National Gold Award recipients will get a combined $110,000 in college scholarships from the Susan Bulkeley Butler Institute for the Development of Women Leaders; a combined $50,000 in college scholarships from the Kappa Delta Foundation; and a combined $50,000 in college scholarships from Arconic Foundation.”
Check out the full list of winners here .
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