Global Moms+Social Good 2016: Be a mentor, Girl Up doesn't mean Boy Down, support girls education

Thursday, May 26, 2016

As a mother of four, my hope is that my children, their children and future generations, live in a loving and caring environment. 

When there is love in the home, and in the community, children can dream, and realize their full potential.

On May 5, 2016, Global Moms,  together with the United Nations Foundation and Johnson and Johnson,  gathered a diverse group of men and women to talk about this year’s theme: 
“What do you wish were true for every child everywhere?”
Topics included:

  •  Understanding motherhood worldwide
  •  Equality and access for families everywhere
  • A 360-degree education: What girls need to reach their full potential
  • Women and Girls in the Syria Crisis: Strength Through Adversity
  • The Humanitarian Crisis: Creating Safe Spaces for Women and Children
  • Keynote address: Ambassador Samantha Power
  • From local to global challenges: Focus on the whole child
  • Care, prevention and the truth about today’s infectious diseases
  • The changing role of dad in the modern family
  • Keynote: Every Mother Counts: Women’s Issues

Since education is close to my heart, the panel on education caught my attention.

The panelists were:
  • Caryl M Stern, Pres. & CEO, U.S. Fund of UNICEF
  • Meredith Walker, Co-Founder of Amy Poehler’s  Smart Girls
  • Amy Gong Liu, Girl Up Teen Advisor
  • Emily Mahaney, Senior Editor at Glamour (moderator)

I was born and raised in the Philippines. My parents provided a loving and nurturing home for me and my 5 brothers. Our hearts were filled with love. When I was growing up, a good and decent public education wasn’t readily available.

My siblings and I were blessed and grateful that we were able to attend private schools.  However, like most families with 6 children, sending 6 children to school was a financial burden.  There were times when my parents didn’t have enough money to pay for my younger brothers’ tuition, text books or school supplies. My brother would borrow a textbook, and my dad would stay up all night typing that book. There were times I had to help sell “kangkong” at the wet market. Luckily for me, academic scholarships took care of my tuition fees all the way through college.

11 years ago, I took my 4 children to visit the Philippines. They also had a chance to visit the squatters’ area where poor families in Manila lived. In our conversation with the families, my children were told that most of the children didn’t have access to an education. The fathers didn’t think it was necessary for children to be educated.  Some of the parents didn’t have the ambition to work and improve their lives; many of the parents just gave up. If they were lucky, some of them found work doing laundry or serving as a hired driver. But since there were few job opportunities, most of these poor families found whatever means available to make some money -- peddling, selling on the streets, salvaging scraps from garbage dumps, and sometimes working as prostitutes or engaging in other illegal activity.

When they returned home, my children started a scholarship fund to help send children to school. They each set aside a portion of their allowance every day for seven years, and then donated the money to a Filipino charity to help send children to school.

Listening to the panel on education brought me back to a time when I lived in the Philippines. It re energized me to continue, and expand, my volunteer work with the disadvantaged rural kids. As the chief of the Scholars Program for Advancementfor Rural Kids (ARK), I know that we make a difference in the lives of every child we educate and mentor.

Let me share some of the panel discussions that motivated me to do what I do, and encourage others to be a mentor.

A 360 degree education: What girls need to reach their full potential

“If we don’t solve the problem of education, our children are going to destroy whatever we made, but if we only solve the problem of education then our children will solve the problems of the world…

Education is important not because it’s to break the cycle of poverty.  School is the place where they feel safe.  (Education) helps to prevent them to be forced to early labor, or child marriage. The benefits go beyond the reading, writing and arithmetic.” - Caryl M Stern, Pres. & CEO, U.S. Fund of UNICEF

 “The greatest gift we give a girl is autonomy, to have choices of her own actions.” - Amy Gong Liu, Girl Up Teen Advisor

“Educating girls is so much more than text books and teachers. So much of the learning comes outside of the classroom.” - Meredith Walker, Co-Founder of Amy Poehler’s  Smart Girls

“You change the world by changing yourself. It is hard work to be ourselves. The best foundation is to know yourself, to be yourself. Make good decisions that are true to you. What makes them (girls) feel alive is when they feel like they are advocating for others.”  - Meredith Walker, Co-Founder of Amy Poehler’s  Smart Girls

CONFIDENCE GAP: How do we teach the generation of girls that they’re smart enough?

“We just try to help as much as we can. Everyone should understand the importance of mentoring one person at a time. Showing up at events, having lunch with somebody.

Girls want to be heard, they don’t want to be diminished for their youth. They can tell when we are interested in their opinions.

And it is through experience – we can go to a lot of symposiums, have workshops at school, getting your hands dirty – really trying to help. It’s the experience that really do plant that confidence in people – that’s what makes the true difference.” -  Meredith Walker, Co-Founder of Amy Poehler’s  Smart Girls

 “Girl UP doesn’t mean Boy DOWN. It’s not about pushing others down but by pushing yourself back up and believing on what you’re doing. To move forward despite opposition because you know you can make it happen.” - Amy Gong Liu, Girl Up Teen Advisor

“The best thing is to expose them to the way we think.  Our boys grow up when women are in a position of leadership, but that’s not always true, so we have to remind our boys what a girl had to overcome to get to where she’s at. Leadership isn’t identified by the degree in the wall.”  - Caryl M Stern, Pres. & CEO, U.S. Fund of UNICEF

 “Point out whatever excellence there is to any person, but particularly young women. It is important to acknowledge their excellence.” - Caryl M Stern, Pres. & CEO, U.S. Fund of UNICEF

“There are a lot of WHAT NOT TO DO messages than WHAT THEY’RE DOING WELL. Take time to listen, get somebody to hear you makes a huge difference. “ - Meredith Walker, Co-Founder of Amy Poehler’s  Smart Girls

“STOP apologizing. Speak loader, not softer.” -  Amy Gong Liu, Girl Up Teen Advisor

“Not to take yourself seriously.  The greatest part of getting older is coming to terms of you are who you are – and laugh!” - Caryl M Stern, Pres. & CEO, U.S. Fund of UNICEF

“We all deserve permission to fail and encouragement to grow.” - Meredith Walker, Co-Founder of Amy Poehler’s  Smart Girls

“Push, step out of the box, make room to be silly, to be myself.”  - Amy Gong Liu, Girl Up Teen Advisor

“Keep the conversation going. Talk to the men and women to join with you in the conversation – it’s gonna take a movement to really move the needle.” - Caryl M Stern, Pres. & CEO, U.S. Fund of UNICEF

Other Inspirational quotes from the Moms +SocialGood event:
“Moms need to help other moms struggling with challenges” – Kimberly Williams-Paisley Actress and Author

“Right of education for all. How important is it to talk about not women’s health or women’s education but in terms of community education?” -  Alaa Murabit , UN Sustainable Development Goals Advocate

We need to focus more on education and how we help these women better at taking care of their children. Providing safe spaces because when you provide safe spaces you are able to help women speak what they are going through. No one is asking “How is this woman feeling today?”  – Mari Malek, Model and Activist

 “Education for all boys and girls is an investment for our collective security and our shared humanity” – Ambassador Samantha Power, United States Ambassador to the UN

“Men need to man up for women’s rights” – Nigel Barker Photographer and Girl Up Champion

Check out the schedule on between now and June 17, 2016. For every story you share and like on Facebook, Johnson&Johnson will donate $1 (up to $350,000) to its partner non-profit organizations. Don't forget to use the hashtags #GlobalMomsRelay and #JNJ

GottaLoveMom Founder, Jen Furer, with Meredith Walker, Co-Founder of Amy Poehler’s  Smart Girls, Chrysula Winegar, Community Manager of Global Moms Challenge, and Emily McKhann, Co-Founder of 

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