Read the interview in Greek HERE
In many countries around the world, girls have long been discriminated against by society and made to believe that they are less important than boys. In fact, no country has achieved complete gender equality so there is still injustice. According to some statistics, women’s literacy rates are significantly lower than men’s in most developing countries; education is really important and essential for the survival and empowerment of girls. It is an effective way to reduce poverty.
Between 2011 and 2020, 142 million girls are projected to become child brides in developing countries but this can be stopped if the United Nations and some competent bodies find the formula in order to put an end to this slavery. Even, previous research has found that encouraging girls to stay in school can reduce child marriage.
Many non-profit organizations are fighting for the girl’s rights and how to empower them in order to contribute to the world and express their beliefs. The voice of young girls must be heard with one way or another.
Likewise, the non-profit organization “I AM THAT GIRL” provides a safe space to all the girls that feel insecure and small. In an exclusive interview to “Anna Krith’s Lifestyle”, the Intern of Partnerships and Social of the organization, Ahnalin Barkhimer stresses the necessity of empowering girls, by allowing them to breathe as they no longer waste energy trying to keep it all inside. Furthermore, she shares experiences of girls who had to face difficulties and they remained silent and denotes that the Weinstein scandal has reminded women that they are not alone.
Find out how “I am that Girl” provides personal development and change the life of “silent” girl by reading the following interview.
A: Anna Krith – Journalist
A.B: Ahnalin Barkhimer – Intern of Partnerships and Social at “I AM THAT GIRL”
A: What’s the story behind ‘I am that Girl’ and why did they chose that kind of name?
A.B: Well, it all started when Alexis Jones, our Founder, came up with that name as she sat with a few girls in the beginning of “I AM THAT GIRL’s” creation. She talked about how there is always “that girl” you wanted to be friends with, or wanted to be like, yet we never see are selves as “that girl”. So, the name came about. “I AM THAT GIRL” is a place where girls can support one another, gain confidence and be “that girl”.
A: How ‘I AM THAT GIRL provides ‘leadership’ and ‘personal development’ to girls in high school?
A.B: “I AM THAT GIRL” provides girls a safe space to be vulnerable and authentic. Girls hold meetings structured around real topics like body image, mental health, relationships, school, family, you name it, and this allow them to breathe as they no longer waste energy trying to keep it all inside. When girls learn to support instead of compete leadership is formed as they consistently empower and support one another through every day lives. By talking about real issues with girls who understand and support, girls no longer feel the need to be who they’re supposed to be, and can just be.
A: Remember a story from a girl that you have helped out – Share the experience.
Α.Β: So, last year I co-founded a chapter at University of California of Irvine, and there was some struggle gaining members and keeping momentum. Sometimes, I honestly thought about quitting but at our last chapter meeting of the year, two girls who saw a flyer on campus, had the courage to try out the club and ended up staying loyal members. They said that something made all the struggle and doubt worth it. They told me how they needed this; they needed this place where they could talk, to be themselves. In a school of over 35,000 students, we gave them a place to be heard, a place where they matter and I will never forget that. It reminds me everyday that the risk is always worth it.
A: Why should someone join ‘I AM THAT GIRL’?
Α.Β: The real question is “Why not?” “I AM THAT GIRL” is a community of girls supporting other girls. It is a place where you can speak up, vent, support, discuss, and be loved with no judgement. It creates a safe and loving space for girls to be authentic and remember that they matter and that they are enough. Also, it creates a “home” that you never knew you needed.
A: On the organization’s website it says ‘Every time I look in the mirror I’ll remind myself that I’m not alone, that I’m beautiful, that my voice matters, and that I am enough’. This is really motivating for empowering the girls. Don’t you agree?
Α.Β: Yes of course! I’m the kind of person that constantly reminds herself what she hasn’t done with her life, what she isn’t or doesn’t have. I constantly compare myself to everyone else’s highlight real on social media, so I remind myself everyday that I Am Enough.
A: Are you going to do any projects or campaigns so that the voices of the girls can be heard?
A.B: Yes, we already have some. I guess, 2018 will be an amazing year for our girls, but I can’t say too much yet. Everyone will just have to follow along on our social media and become a supporter to stay updated on all the amazing things we have planned this year!
A: After the Weinstein scandal many celebrities and women out there found their voice and step out of their comfort zone. This year we can see and feel the change. What do you think ?
Α.Β: Yes, the phrase “ME TOO” has actually been around “I AM THAT GIRL” for a while. Alexis Jones says, “The two most powerful words in the English dictionary are: ME TOO.” These words let us know that we are not alone. I think the Weinstein Scandal, as unfortunate as it is that women have gone through so much harassment and assault, has reminded women that they are not alone and that they are more powerful together, and I think we will be seeing so many “badass” women speaking up making even more change!
A: What would you say to a girl that is afraid of fighting her fear in order to face it?
A.B: I would remind her that she is not alone. I personally struggle with fears that I have built up from my childhood and I was recently told that the best way for me to overcome them is to let myself feel them. I would remind her that it’s going to hurt and it will be terrifying, but she is not alone, she is more than strong enough, and it will be worth it.
A: How can the organization help young girls around the world 🌍?
A.B: It will give girls a support group that is much needed in everyday lives. It can be scary going to high school or going to college where you don’t know anyone and “I AM THAT GIRL” can give girls that “home” away from home and genuine friendships. When girls around the world remind themselves that they are enough and their voice matters, it create a chain of empowerment and change.
A: What was the more difficult situation you have ever faced but when you dealt with you became more powerful?
A.B: I think one of the most difficult things anyone can do is cut ties with old friends. I’ve had to do that a lot in the past 10 years and although it has become easier, it still hurts. However, being able to let go of relationships that no longer help you grow, platonic or romantic, is a very necessary skill and it has given me so much freedom to be me and create my own path in life.
A: How can girls leave their mark on the world?
A.B: I think it all starts within ourselves. Girls should focus on being authentic and being there for themselves first whether that is physically, mentally, emotionally, professionally, etc. There are a few quotes like, “You can’t pour from an empty cup,” or “a tree can’t provide shade until it allows it’s self to grow.” I think the transformation of girls leaving a mark on this world starts with taking care of ourselves and those closest to us. Once we start to get a grip on that, once our cup is full, can we start providing water for others.