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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“Fearless” at The ROC


I believe that a motivated writer will use anything to record her words – a stubby pencil and the backs of receipts works just fine. There’s something to be said, however, for writing stories in a beautiful book. To motivate the teen girls in my class at The ROC, I gave them each a lovely notebook with the word, FEARLESS, written across the cover. These books serve as a reminder each and every time they sit down to write to think outside of the box and record the truth in what they see around them. I expect nothing less than the world from each of the girls in my class.

The Advice project has a need for lovely stationary, notebooks and writing tools. Do you have any of these items to contribute? Let us know!

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Letter to Governor Christie about his comments on Income Equality

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Yesterday, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie made a few comments in response to the Democratic Party’s growing attention to income equality. An article in the NY Times by Michael Barbaro reported that “the problem, [Christie] said, is that Americans do not want income equality, suggesting that it is antithetical to the country’s abiding belief in ‘income opportunity’ that rewards hard work and merit.”

A guest of the Economic Club of Chicago, Christie, ever off the mark, told the room full of people: “You want income equality? That is mediocrity,” he said. “Everybody can have an equal, mediocre salary.”

I thought it appropriate to give this man – a Republican, white, married man – my response. Continue reading

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Our newest contributor, Chi Yvonne Leina

Chi Yvonne LeinaMeet our newest contributor, Chi Yvonne Leina, a Cameroonian journalist, community leader and digital media change agent dedicated to shining a light on the unheard voices of ordinary women in Africa and transforming their fate. READ MORE…

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Writing, global citizenship and empowerment workshop at Fahari Academy

Fahari Workshop

A few of the teens who were in today’s workshop!

Today I had the privilege of leading a writing, global citizenship and empowerment workshop for teen girls and their mothers at Fahari Academy Charter School in the Flatbush neighborhood of Brooklyn, New York. Together, we read a few letters from Advice to My Thirteen-Year-Old Self and discussed not only the various problems that had been raised, but the solutions the writers had developed. We then wrote about some of our own problems and – as a group – came up with solutions. Needless to say, it was a moving, informative and fun workshop. We even had this little guy visit for awhile – the youngest feminist I’ve had the pleasure of working with:

Fahari - Aiden

A mother and daughter from last week’s session wrote their own letters and shared them today. Listening to them read the solutions they had created for their own problems, and seeing moms and teen girls respond to each other’s thoughts and feelings made me realize just how much the ‘Advice’ workshops matter.

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“Reinventing the self-help industry”

Reinventing self-help books...

Reinventing self-help books…

Couldn’t be more happier and more proud to have been featured on Women You Should Knowa website that shines a spotlight on women who are making things happen in the world. A gem from the article:

Love yourself, take risks, be your best self, etc. When it comes to life advice, we’ve heard it all before. It’s hard to reinvent the cultural phenomenon that is the self-help industry, but that’s exactly what writer Melissa Banigan has set out to do with her new book and project, Advice to My Thirteen-Year-Old Self.

Click here to read the entire article.

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News about the first ‘Advice’ class and workshops!

Advice materials

What you’re seeing above are some of the materials I put together for the very first Advice to My Thirteen-Year-Old Self writing, empowerment and global citizenship class I taught at The ROC in New York City.

Yes, it’s happening! Each teenage girl in the class received her syllabus, readings and homework assignment for next week (including a letter from the Advice anthology), and a few pages of stationary for writing her own letters. The class was a great success – held democratically, the girls were free to contribute and add topics to the syllabus that they felt were missing. Needless to say, their enthusiasm is contagious!

This weekend I’ll be leading the first of a two session workshop for teen girls and their moms at Fahari Academy Charter School in Brooklyn. Thirty participants have signed up, and I am confident it will be an empowering event.

I think we’re at the beginning of something amazing. I look forward to offering more classes and workshops both in New York and internationally. Stay tuned for more information…

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Our newest contributor, Noura Al Noman


Welcome our newest contributor, children’s book and young adult science fiction author from the United Arab Emirates, Noura Al Noman. Read a bit about Noura, here.

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