Growing Mango Trees to Educate Girls

"Mango" by Thor

“Mango” by Thor


A woman is gang raped and flung from a bus in India, Nigerian terrorists are stealing girls and honor killings are common. In the most recent atrocity to make the papers, two innocent girls from a rural village in India’s Uttar Pradesh state went to the fields to relieve themselves when a group of men surrounded, raped and strangled them to death before hanging their bodies from a mango tree. Continue reading

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Media, Quit Marketing “Ideal Beauty” to Teens

Photo by Danielle Helm

Photo by Danielle Helm


In a 2012 study conducted by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, teen girls aged 12 – 17 have depression rates up to three times higher than teenage boys. No wonder. As an almost 13-year-old teen girl, I have experienced firsthand how society has told me that I need to be beautiful, and that to do so, I need to wear makeup, be skinny and shave my legs. It is clear to me that the media heavily affects the way teen girls perceive their own beauty and self-worth. Continue reading

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Get muddy and do beautiful things in Peru with the Advice Project!

Girls get dirty!

Right before we needed to leave for her cello concert, my daughter came out wearing dark black jeans, a black shirt and combat boots. Her hair was unbrushed. “You look like a mess,” I could’ve said, but I bit my tongue and instead asked, “are you ready to go?” My daughter nodded, waiting for me to command her to first change her shoes and grab a hairbrush. Instead, I surprised both of us by saying, “Darling, you look great. Grab your cello. Allons-y!”

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Stepping out from the shadows: Why #YesAllWomen is important

Photo by Amy "Shadow Woman"

Photo by Amy “Shadow Woman”

“Can I pluck your G-string?” yelled the man standing on the opposite subway platform, smiling.

I looked around. He wasn’t talking to me, right? And certainly he wasn’t directing his comment toward my twelve-year-old daughter, who stood with her cello on her back, as she did every Saturday morning while waiting for the train to carry her to her music lesson? Continue reading

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Menstrual Hygiene Day and Breaking the Silence


Marking the first annual Menstrual Hygiene Day, India’s biggest newspaper, The Times of India, reports how Urmila Chanam, contributor to the Advice anthology and recipient of the Laadli Media and Advertising Award for Gender Sensitivity in 2013, has launched a campaign called “Breaking the Silence, Celebrating the Red Droplets” to dispel the myths surrounding menstruation Continue reading

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Advice Project Workshop at Women for Afghan Women

WAWToday it was an honor to lead an Advice Project workshop with some of the young women at Women for Afghan Women! Together, we read some of the letters from the Advice anthology, and then wrote and read aloud our own letters that partnered problems with solutions. Continue reading

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Visit Peru with the 2015 Advice Project Global Leadership and Empowerment Summit!


Next summer, the Advice Project will be leading a group of teen girls and youth leaders to Peru for the 2015 Advice Project Global Leadership and Empowerment Summit. Over a two-week period, participants will live in a gorgeous eco-lodge located in the rainforest to learn about conservation, sustainability and women’s issues through a series of writing, empowerment and global citizenship workshops, and will also be taking daily hikes and adventures through the rainforest to nearby lakes to learn about delicate rainforest ecosystems. Leading the summit will be an amazing group of trained writers, professors, guides, indigenous women and local mestizo farmers, as well as filmmakers who will help participants to create short videos highlighting global women’s issues.

The summit was inspired by Advice Project workshops and classes already being offered to teens and youth in both the United States and internationally. In the classes, students have been responding enthusiastically to letters from the Advice to My Thirteen-Year-Old Self anthology. These letters have been contributed by fifty women from around the world, and deal with a wide range of themes such as beauty, depression and finding peace, following dreams, suicide, genocide, war, recovery and love. Students have been inspired to write their own letters, and are urged to partner problems any problems they might raise with solutions. Continue reading

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The Advice Project’s call to action on International Women’s Day

International Women's Day

Today, on International Women’s Day, a number of my friends are speaking out against gender inequality by posting comments on Facebook and sharing photos through Instagram. I am glad this is happening, and hope that this day gives people a genuine opportunity to reflect on how they might become agents for change every day of their lives.

I talk a lot about the uphill battles women are fighting. Whether, like me, you demand that the United States ratify CEDAW (which would guarantee an equal income for women), speak out against gender violence in Cameroon, or, like Naheed Bahram, use your privilege as an educated Afghan woman to help other girls and women also become educated, being an advocate for chance can feel like a huge undertaking. Sometimes, it seems as though we women are standing atop different mountains, calling to each other through the clouds about our various projects. Wouldn’t it be nice if we could be brought a little closer so that we could stand together rather than apart? This is what the Advice project is trying to do. Continue reading

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A Story About the Importance of Educating Girls: Naheed Bahram, Program Director for Women for Afghan Women

Naheed Screen Shot 2014-03-05 at 9.05.38 AM

It was a great privilege last week to meet with Advice contributor and New York Program Director for Women for Afghan Women, Naheed Bahram, at her office in Queens, New York. Speaking with Naheed about her life and learning more about her organization inspired me, and I think you, too, will be moved by her story. Continue reading

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Mentor the Teen Winner of a Writing Contest in Cameroon!

Gender Danger

For International Women’s Day on March 8th, one of the contributors to the Advice anthology, Chi Yvonne Leina, has organized a writing contest for high school girls in Cameroon through her organization, Gender Danger, and in partnership with Crooked Trails and the Advice project. Girls have been asked to write about the violence against women they have witnessed, how it has affected them, and what can be done to prevent violence from occurring again. The Advice project will be contributing editing three months of online classes and a two-week workshop in Cameroon, and there is a need for a few wonderful people who would like to sponsor/mentor the winners.

I urge you to read the interview with Leina, below, to see how you can get involved. Continue reading

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