Posted on Aug 23, 2021
The beauty of Rotary is that service means different things to different people around the world. One element, however, that we can incorporate into all of our service initiatives is empowering girls. Unfortunately, even in this day and age, girls and young women face disproportionate challenges all over the world. We have the power to lead the charge for gender equality. Empowering girls and young women to have greater access to education, better healthcare, more employment, and equality in all walks of life should be embedded in every Rotary project we launch. Girls are future leaders, so we must ensure that we help them shape their future. - Shekar Mehta
The Empowering Girls initiative is one of three Presidential Initiatives for Rotary year 2021-2022 as we Serve to Change Lives.
The initiative is focused on club-level projects through which Rotary clubs can create positive change in the lives of girls.
Equality is a fundamental human right that's critical in order to have a peaceful, prosperous, and sustainable world. Still, girls and women worldwide face inequities in areas including health and education, and they experience significant violence and disproportionate poverty. Rotary encourages clubs and districts to prioritize projects that improve the health, well-being, education, and economic security of girls in their communities and around the world. Develop a club-based initiative, a district grant, or a global grant that engages members of your community in a project that will protect and empower girls. Work to increase equity by ensuring their access to resources that will improve their lives.
Specifically, the initiative challenges clubs to:
  • Engage in a project or projects of their choice that empowers girls.
  • Address the needs and inequities that girls throughout the world face on a daily basis.
  • In addition to implementing a project, monitor and measure the impact of the project.
  • Disseminate and create awareness of Rotary resources and subject matter experts, including but not limited to: Rotary Action Groups, Rotary Foundation cadre and Peace Fellows.
  • Tell the stories of successful projects and their impact to the general public, using a variety of media channels.
  • Share the stories of success and their impact across their region and post them on Rotary Showcase, as well as on social media channels.
Clubs are encouraged to work with District and Zone leaders to spread the word of this initiative in the coming months.
Many Rotarians and Rotaractors in District 7030 have already asked what this initiative is all about and how they can help.
Since this is a new initiative with a broad mandate, clubs have the creative space to shape projects that will INCREASE OUR IMPACT. The sky is truly the limit. 
This initiative focuses on the empowerment of girls through club and district events and service activities, as well as through RI-sponsored events such as the Rotary International Convention, Rotary Day at the United Nations, presidential conferences, and Rotary Days of Service.
The purpose of the initiative is to:
  • Prioritize girls in one or more areas of focus to improve their well-being and allow them to make greater contributions to their communities.
  • Raise awareness of the need to empower girls and work to close the youth gender gap across Rotary activities.
  • Inspire clubs and districts to carry out service projects that aim to empower girls.

Rotary clubs and districts can participate by creating and implementing projects that enhance the quality of life for girls and improves girls’ chances of enjoying safe, healthy, and productive lives. They can also modify existing projects to include components that focus on empowering girls. Clubs and districts can emphasize the empowerment of girls in events such as Rotary Days of Service, Rotary institutes, community-based projects, district events such as photo or essay awards, other service activities, and through communications such as social media and messages from Rotary leaders.
Ask yourselves...
  • What challenges do girls face in our community?
  • How can our club work with communities to find solutions to these challenges?
  • What cultural norms in our area might keep girls from attending school?
  • Which local organizations can we work with on projects that empower girls?
  • How can we raise awareness of the need to empower girls within our communities and among our partners?
  • Does our club empower women to take leadership roles?
  • Consider planning events and activities related to 11 October, the International Day of the Girl Child.
  • Plan Rotary Days of Service activities that highlight or focus on the empowerment of girls.
  • Think about how you can apply the principles of diversity, equity, and inclusion in projects and programs that emphasize gender equity and empower girls.
  • Contact Rotary Action Groups to find resources, guidance, and project ideas for empowering girls in each of their areas of expertise.
  • Advise clubs to use the tags #EmpoweringGirls2021 or #EG2021 on their project posts to the Rotary Showcase Empowering Girls campaign.
  • Work with Rotary partners such as ShelterBox, Habitat for Humanity International, Mediators Beyond Borders International or the Rotary Action Group for Peace on projects to empower girls in ways related to their expertise, such as disaster response, affordable and safe housing, or peacebuilding and mediation.
  • Enlist the participation of Peace Fellows, Global Grant Scholars, and Program Alumni.
  • Encourage Interact clubs to take part in the Interact Awards and submit videos, photos, and essays that are about empowering girls.
  • Support the creation of new Interact clubs, either at traditional or all-girl schools, to help empower girls through leadership development and community service.
  • Consider events and activities related to Global Youth Service Day, which is 29 April to 1 May 2022, to emphasize how youth service can empower girls.
  • Use your Rotary Youth Leadership Awards (and virtual RYLA events) to empower girls through leadership development activities.
  • Encourage members to submit session ideas for the Youth Exchange Officers Preconvention that are about supporting and empowering girls.
  • Start using the service-learning materials for adult advisers and youth participants in the Learning Center to plan projects that empower girls through service and address the needs of girls in each community.
  • Highlight in club and district communications the benefits for girls of participating in Rotary Youth Exchange.
  • Feature stories about girls who found leadership opportunities through Interact.
  • Develop projects that focus on empowering girls and submit them to the Rotaract Outstanding Project Awards, which showcase innovative, sustainable service activities aligned with our areas of focus.
  • Encourage members to submit session ideas for the Rotaract Preconvention that are about supporting and empowering girls
  • Establish near-peer mentor relationships between Rotaract and Interact members with a focus on mentoring girls.
  • Consider projects that include an investment in training female teachers.
  • Work to create or improve the teaching of science, technology, engineering, arts, and math for girls as part of a school curriculum or in an after-school program.
  • Set up after-school mentoring and tutoring programs for girls.
  • Include adult literacy programs for mothers in your education projects.
  • Facilitate professional development opportunities for teachers on gender-sensitive topics.
  • Find ways to increase the conversation opportunities for boys about cultural and societal practices that affect girls.
  • Contact government leaders to advocate that they invest in girls’ educational opportunities and establish stricter laws against child labor, female genital mutilation, and early marriage.
  • Provide menstrual hygiene education to boys and girls in the community.
  • Support programs that provide sexual and adolescent health care, including reproductive care services.
  • Facilitate education about preventing and treating sexually transmitted diseases, such as HIV and HPV.
  • Promote vaccinations that prevent the transmission of HPV and hepatitis B and C.
  • Contact Rotary Action Groups that support these areas of focus, such as the Rotary Action Group for Reproductive, Maternal, and Child Health, which has an interest in adolescent health, gender equality, and the empowerment of girls.
  • Advocate for mental health services specific to young girls and teens, such as those that focus on preventing suicide and dealing with substance abuse and addiction.
  • Support early prevention and treatment services focused on teen pregnancies and fetal alcohol syndrome.
  • Consider projects that work to prevent and treat adolescent-onset diabetes.
  • Support projects that educate people about how to protect young women from being trafficked.
  • Facilitate the education and engagement of young women in peacebuilding processes.
  • Promote rehabilitative services programs for victims of domestic violence.
  • Advocate for refugee programs aimed at young girls.
  • Work to promote health education throughout a girl’s school years.
  • Contact peace fellows who work with femaleled organizations that are making positive social change.
  • Focus stories from your club or district on how COVID-19 has affected women and girls.
  • Develop projects to support families’ livelihoods and protect them from external economic shocks, because when families are desperate, children — especially girls — are often the first to suffer.
  • Facilitate projects that provide skills and experience to girls so they can improve their future access to jobs.
  • Support projects to ensure that girls have access to a reliable food supply and high-quality nutrition.
  • Promote projects that empower women, which create more role models and mentors for girls and set precedents for girls having learning opportunities.
  • Develop projects that improve water, sanitation, and hygiene services at schools so that girls can safely manage their menstrual hygiene without sacrificing their education. This would include, among other things, gender-specific toilets, access to sanitary napkins, and convenient and environmentally safe waste disposal.
  • Support initiatives that provide women with the skills and experience to be become entrepreneurs and start businesses or cooperatives that make and sell sanitation and menstrual hygiene products, such as menstrual hygiene kits, reusable pads, and undergarments.
  • Work with groups that ensure that sanitation initiatives in schools include gender-specific toilet facilities.
  • Participate in projects to develop menstrual hygiene management plans and resources, including safely managed water and sanitary systems, sanitary napkins, and programs to address cultural taboos.
  • Promote projects that encourage girls to assume leadership positions in hygiene promotion programs, such as the creation and implementation of school health clubs.
  • Promote the use of traditional and Indigenous knowledge to empower girls in natural resource management practices and understand how it affects their lives.
  • Educate girls about the importance of sustainable agricultural methods to improve food security, reduce food waste, and increase access to fresh, healthy food.
  • Support activities that educate and empower girls to influence family decisions about food security, family nutrition, and health.
  • Develop environmental projects that have economic, educational, and health benefits for girls.
  • Educate girls about the disproportionate impact of climate change on them and their futures.
  • Improve access to education for girls so they can make informed choices later about issues that can have an environmental impact, from family planning to sanitation to food security.
Use the campaign strategies, service activities and ideas in the following resources to help you promote and prioritize the empowerment of girls: