This article was first published on RiotACT.
Being the father of a bright, confident and creative daughter, The Girls Leadership Network (TGLN) sparked more than a little of my attention.
Now in its second year, TGLN was founded by Ritu Clementi, who had created similar programs in the US that were so successful that she won the Martin Luther King Jr Diversity award from Nike. She worked closely with her college-age daughter, Asha, in founding the program.
Seeing there were few long-term programs targeting senior girls across Canberra, Ritu received a Great Ydeas grant in May 2016 and started the TGLN program.
“This is truly a grassroots, ground-up organisation where a group of women are coming together to make a difference locally,” Ritu said.
TGLN is a series of workshops where young women discuss topics such as: learning about themselves, defining their priorities and understanding what their success looks like.
“We explore emotional resilience, understand that your path to your goals may not be linear and how to pick yourself up after a perceived failure and learn from that experience,” Ritu explained.
The program is open to girls in year 11 and 12 in the ACT and surrounding areas and attracted 35 girls from 13 schools in 2017.
The TGLN involves one workshop per month over five months and included the following topics and speakers in 2017:
TGLN wouldn’t be the success it is without the commitment of a number of senior professional Canberra women.
One of those women is Sian Rinaldi. Sian is a senior consultant with local business Callida Consulting.
“Callida is a strong supporter of local Canberra initiatives. I saw The Girls Leadership Network and decided we should get involved,” Sian explained.
After meeting with Ritu, Sian volunteered with TGLN and joined their leadership team.
“I’m really pleased to be involved in teaching young women leadership and networking skills,” Sian said.
Sian is a specialist in human resources and change management and is highly qualified with two masters’ degrees.
“One of the main reasons I got involved is because I strongly believe in the power of networks. I often call upon my networks for advice and direction, not only on work-related challenges but also in general to gain different perspectives on a variety of issues.”
Sian grew up in Canberra and lived in Singapore for years 9 and 10 and then came back to Canberra for years 11 and 12. She found that when she returned in college, it was so apparent to her that in Canberra, there weren’t many opportunities to break out of a school catchment zone or ‘side’ of Canberra. One of the primary purposes of the TGLN is to begin to break down some of those barriers and meet other young women that were interested in leadership.
“The earlier you are able to establish and harness a strong network and feel confident in approaching and using them, the better,” Sian advised.
What sort of young women are attracted to The Girls Leadership Network?
“There are a few school captains and other school leaders that have participated. But the majority are from diverse interests including STEM, music, design and commerce,” Sian outlined.
TGLN has partnered with the Finnish Embassy and undertake activities there including Girl Takeover.
Two girls from TGLN ‘took over’ the Finnish Embassy and ran their social media and attended meetings with the Ambassador.
TGLN also participated in Plan International’s Girls Takeover Parliament, where young women shadowed key members of parliament. Asha Clementi was chosen as the youngest participant, working with Rebecca Sharkie, from South Australia.
“I would encourage young women in the years 11 and 12 in Canberra and the surrounds to get involved in TGLN,” Sian concluded.
After speaking to Sian about TGLN, I will certainly be raising this with my daughter and encouraging her to get involved.
The Girls Leadership Network is looking for up to 50 young women in year 11 and 12 to participate in their program in 2018. TGLN is on Facebook and you can register interest by visiting The Girls Leadership Network.
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