A Life-Changing Week at the HerStory Summit

The HerStory Sisterhood

"We are leaving here with sisters from every part of the world, and that is the greatest strength of this summit."

These closing words from the second annual Global HerStory Summit, co-created with our amazing partner Global G.L.O.W., sing the powerful story of this signature HerStory Campaign event and the work we do together in partnership with communities every day of the year.

At the Summit, our girls and their mentors from LitClubs around the world came together in New York City during the UN Women's Commission on the Status of Women to learn and share experiences. They created their very own Community Action Plans to bring change to their communities through the power of story. Now, the girls have returned to their homes to put their ideas into action. Our HerStory Youth Ambassadors are creating positive, lasting, girl-driven change in the world. And it is the power of their own stories that fuels that change.

Girl-Driven Change

HerStory Leaders with Ravi Karkara of UN Women

HerStory Leaders with Ravi Karkara of UN Women

The Power of Story Connects to the Work of UN Women

The Summit was held in conjunction with UN Women’s 61st Annual Commission on the Status of Women to ensure that action plans were aligned with the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals. Ravi Karkara, Senior Advisor for Strategic Partnerships at UN Women, joined us to share his commitment to gender equity and passion for advocacy on behalf of all girls.

The Power of Story Fuels Community-Based Change

Juany, the Director of Otra Cosa Network, our partner organization in Peru, reported that the HerStory Ambassadors had their first meeting with the Mayor of Huanchaco in Cerrito de la Virgen as the first step in their Community Action Plan. They are hard at work to make access to water a reality!

The Power of Story Creates Safe Learning Spaces

Winney and the group of Ambassadors from Kenya are working to create LitClub-Houses, safe, permanent space for girls to attend the LitClub program, study and store essential learning supplies like notebooks, pens, and even sanitary pads. In LitClub, Winney has learned, “Once a girl has knowledge, she will be able to fight for her own rights and prove others wrong. Then she will succeed in life and even empower other girls.” 

Winney is already empowering other girls in her own community and will become a mentor for LitClubs now that she has graduated from secondary school. Winney is a powerful example of how the HerStory Campaign supports girls to grow into young women who have a positive impact on themselves, their own communities, and the world. 

The Power to Change the World

From the friendships formed during this amazing week, to the profoundly beautiful stories written, told, and displayed by our LitClub members, and our organization's extraordinary partnership with Global Girls Leading Our World, the HerStory Campaign is modeling the power of women and girls to change the world. 

You can support this crucial work of equity through literacy by joining us at LitWorld's 10th Anniversary Spring Gala on May 10. We invite you to this special evening as we celebrate a decade of supporting kids to author their own lives and stories.

Vote For the "Be The Story" Project!

Sharing Student Stories Via Vending Machines in Detroit

A Community Thrives is a new funding opportunity through the USA TODAY NETWORK that supports creative solutions to communities' needs. LitWorld is partnering with The Head & The Hand Press for an opportunity to win up to $100,000 towards our "Be The Story" Project.

Our project asks the question: What if we switched bags of chips with stories in vending machines in schools? Stories written by the students, published as paperback booklets known as chapbooks? The Head & The Hand Press is partnering with LitWorld to make this idea a reality in Detroit. Together, we will host workshops where young writers will produce stories of strength and see them published and displayed in custom chapbook vending machines all over the city. Each school or community's chapbook vending machine will become a portal into the imaginations of its kids. Each story inside a shareable, swappable record of a young writer's vision. 

Voting is open from April 12-May 12 with a maximum one vote per person, per day. Cast your vote and be a champion for the students of Detroit and their powerful stories.

A Reflection from Our Intern: The Magic of Children's Books

Jacey Davidson, LitWorld Winter Intern

J.K. Rowling said in Harry Potter, “Words are, in my not-so-humble opinion, our most inexhaustible source of magic.” I also have always believed that stories have an immense power and transformative quality, especially when introduced at a young age.  Learning to read and write changed my life, allowing my dreams to soar in the unrestrained world of literature. Before I came to LitWorld, I had never seen stories used in such a meaningful and positive way by an organization on a global scale.

During my month-long internship with LitWorld, I spent my time going through their collection of children's books, and placing each of them in one of LitWorld's 7 Strengths: Belonging, Curiosity, Friendship, Kindness, Confidence, Courage, and Hope. With a rare few exceptions the books fit solidly in a category, with strong core values at the heart of every story. Far removed from the world of picture books, many adults underestimate the power that even very simple stories can have on children. They can be deceptively simple, but pack so much more meaning below the surface. I had underestimated the impact of the children's books on young readers.

When I attended one of the LitClub meetings with children in New York I was shown how influential children’s books can be. The class was based around Curiosity, and the read aloud was Shel Silverstein’s poem Reflection, about someone who looks at their reflection in water. I knew who the “upside down man” in the poem was, but listening to the kids discuss it reminded me of how I used to feel, reading tricky Shel Silverstein poems and being proud of myself for figuring out the play on words or the joke. Listening to the kids talk gave me a renewed sense of wonder for the poem, which I had previously thought of as simple. It was also heartening to see how interested the kids were in discussing the poem, and the ideas it gave them as they talked.

Jacey Davidson, Winter Intern

Jacey Davidson, Winter Intern

In addition to underestimating the tools of the trade--children's books--we underestimate the kids themselves, their fervor for learning and empowering their imaginations. Interning at LitWorld has certainly rekindled both of those fires in my heart, and I hope to return to help others enter into the magical world of reading.

Watch: This is #HerStory

Paula and Saniya and writing their stories right now.

The HerStory Campaign, powered by LitWorld and Global Girls Leading Our World, provides young women and girls the support and global platform to share their unique stories. This month, we released the first two in a four-part series of powerful stories from girls around the world. Hear Paula and Saniya as they speak about their hopes and show their fierce determination.

Want to help amplify their voices? Share these videos and add your name at HerStoryCampaign.org. 



Huffington Post: Changing the World with the Power of Girls’ Voices

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Originally published on Huffington Post by Pam Allyn, LitWorld's Executive Director and Founder.

“Once a girl has knowledge, she will be able to fight for her own rights and prove others wrong. Then she will succeed in life and even empower others girls.” These powerful words were written in the Community Action Plan proposal to apply for the Global HerStory Summit, from our HerStory Ambassadors from Kenya.

I immediately knew that these courageous, inspiring girls had to be a part of our event! Their strong words and strong spirits resonate with the core of our work. I founded my organization, LitWorld, to provide every child with a base of literacy and the knowledge and perspective to author their own future of independence that is not predetermined by geography or gender or poverty or a zip code.

Now the Summit is here, and next week, the HerStory Campaign, powered by LitWorld and Global G.L.O.W., will host our 2nd annual Global HerStory Summit. Teams of women and girls from communities around the world where we work will gather in New York City as HerStory Ambassadors. Together, we will spend the week developing their Community Action Plans into a concrete strategy to be able to implement positive and impactful change driven by women and girls in their home communities.

The Summit will be a joyful one, full of storytelling and arts workshops, opportunities to build new friendships and deepen the global HerStory network and connect with other changemakers, as well as visits to iconic sites in New York City. The Summit is also held in conjunction with UN Women during their annual Commission on the Status of Women, to allow the authentic and diverse perspectives of women and girls to inform plans aligned with the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals.

One of the student leaders in Kenya, Winnie, is the oldest child in her family and has been caring for her siblings after her mother passed away five years ago. Despite the challenges she has faced, being part of the HerStory Campaign for the past two years has given Winnie the strength to forge ahead with courage and hope for the future. Winnie and her group’s Community Action Plan will provide sex education for girls in her community in a campaign called “I Read, I Lead.” In Winnie’s community, access to information about women’s health and sexual health is limited. She understands that education is powerful and allows girls to make strong choices for themselves.

Winnie is our future. She is seeking knowledge, empowering herself and working to make her community in Kenya a better place for herself and others. Her story is just starting, but it is one of strength, curiosity and confidence. Through our work, we are proud to amplify her voice, her spirit and her determination.

I hope that you will come hear her story. You are invited to join our HerStory Ambassadors from several countries as they share their stories and ideas for change in song, poem and video at a our UN Women CSW Parallel Event. I will be there, along with other leaders of the HerStory Campaign, to discuss progress of the Campaign around the world, the most pressing issues facing girls, and how to get involved in this crucial movement to help girls in the most challenging communities become agents of change. Please join us in the crucial movement of gender equity, community change and the power of stories to change the world.