On Friday, April 13, the Women’s Foundation of Minnesota hosted its 2018 Economic Opportunity Summit. With an emphasis on improving equity of opportunity for Minnesota’s girls and young women, the summit provided an opportunity for individuals and organizations to share collective knowledge and resources to, eventually, ensure opportunity and economic security for young women. In addition to a facilitated conversation with Representative Ilhan Omar, breakout sessions were held throughout the day, including topics like systems change, developing a culture of healing, leadership in public office and nonprofits and public policy. The sessions included “The Art of Young Women’s Leadership” led by La’Shante Grigsby of YWCA St. Paul and five members of the Young Women’s Initiative of Minnesota (YWIMN) Young Women’s Cabinet. Grigsby, the youth support specialist at YWCA St. Paul, said the presentation was an opportunity for the YWIMN Cabinet to use the tools they’ve gained through the leadership and advocacy training they receive at YWCA St. Paul.
“It was an opportunity for them to see that the work that they’re doing matters and is appreciated,” Grigsby said. “Young women stated that they would leave the room with us feeling inspired and empowered and that is all that we could ask for.”
Planned and designed by members of the Young Women’s Cabinet, this workshop will inspire participants to put voice and passion into action. Young women can walk away with a sense of ownership over their lives through channeling everyday lived experiences and pushing back against the labels and stigmas associated with girlhood, womanhood, and what it means it have a “feminine nature.” Participants will challenge these ideas, identify how they show leadership in their everyday experiences, and explore ways of creating equitable opportunities for all regardless of sexual identity, ethnicity, ability, age, or socioeconomic background. This workshop seeks to encourage young women and girls to thrive by bringing every part of who they are to every situation; and to be comfortable and confident in their identities without compromising their truth.(Workshop description)
The audience of more than 40 young women and girls ages 11-24 were of diverse backgrounds, identities and abilities from across the state. Despite the differences, the session led to a healthy dialogue around gender identity that influenced the way the audience responded to questions and engaged in conversation. “Although, we all come from various backgrounds and represent diverse abilities, gender identities and socioeconomic settings, we have the power to overcome our circumstances if we place value upon ourselves and share our knowledge and resources with one another,” Grigsby said. “We all want to see each other thrive and live our best lives with authenticity and intentionality.”