By: Cyndy Liu and Grace Manning
“Nothing can replace how the women in my life make me feel” – Rupi Kaur
For too long, women have been told not to take up space, to become small, and keep to ourselves. Year after year, there has been an unanswered longing for a place to connect amongst women, a sisterhood that allows women and girls to see and be seen. Now, more than ever, girl-only spaces are needed to establish these connections, bring female representation and voice to a higher platform, and validate the experiences that come with womanhood.
Girl-only spaces often go unacknowledged and are underappreciated for the impact they can make on the lives of young women and girls. In girls, they can promote healthy attitudes and lifestyle habits from a young age. The relationships that come from girl-only spaces take form in the role of apprenticeships, with older women becoming role models to the young women and girls in their lives. These spaces create opportunities for women and girls to work together beyond expectations in a way that empowers them outside of a male dominated setting.
Girl-only spaces are also significant to women who have been otherwise marginalized in their lives. These spaces become meaningful to women of colour, women with disabilities and women who are a part of the LGBTQ+ community as they are able to connect with other women who share the same life experiences. The takeaway from these groups can be gratifying as they can develop these communities further, and form a sort of bond that is irreplaceable.
Speaking from personal experience, being a woman in STEM has caused me to feel overshadowed at times and that I have to follow someone else’s lead. Furthermore, other women in my life have expressed similar experiences in which we felt pressured to limit our opinions as we did not want to come across as overbearing or “bossy” and yielded to the men in our group instead. This shows the importance of girl spaces, where we feel comfortable and accepted to express our voices and opinions. Furthermore, this allows for young girls to grow in an environment where they feel empowered to take charge and be who they are.
Girl-only spaces are about opportunity, and if you give women the opportunity to build, create, and bond in these spaces, we will develop generations of women who will leave their impact on the world.