Boston GLOW is a breeding ground for the modern day superwoman. GLOW fosters opportunities for women of all ages to become empowered community leaders and active world citizens.

Real Girl Leaders: Mia Yee- Empower Girls To Be Confident

Our second edition of Real Girl Leaders features a 2013 IGNITE Change winning project by Mia Yee.   Ms Yee is 16 and lives in Roslindale, MA.  Her project was selected as one of ten winning essays answering the question: "If you had one year and one thousand dollars what would you do to change the role of wome and girls in your school, community or city"  

Empowering Girls With Confidence and Self Defense

 Everyday I walk in the Longwood area to get to school. I am confident: I can hold my head up high. I can walk the streets of Boston without feeling scared, or clutch my purse in fear of someone taking it. I can ride the bus from Ruggles into Dudley Station without any trepidation. I can ride the train from Forest Hills to Mass Ave. without hesitation. I can look people in the eye and say hello. I am confident that I can defend myself.

To get to school, girls just like me living all over the city ride on public transportation: they take the bus, train, or walk on foot by themselves. Some of them seem insecure, or walk timidly and look lost, their heads to the ground, not looking around them. Those are the potential victims, the girls who don’t know how to not look like one, how not to look vulnerable.

Every year, girls under eighteen are assaulted, robbed, and even raped, especially in the cities. According to the RAINN, the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network, some one is sexually abused every two minutes in the US, and 1 out of every 6 women have been a victim of attempted or completed rape. According to the National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey from 2010, most female victims are raped before the age of 25, and almost half of the female victims are under the age of 18. That means that half of the female victims are still in school, not in college yet. Girls who are my peers; girls, just like me.

Girls and women should know how to protect themselves, and not be given inadequate advice to avoid walking alone in the city. Sometimes, a girl has to walk by herself, go places by herself. Just because she walks by herself doesn’t mean she should fear running into trouble, afraid the she will get jumped, kidnapped or worse. My vision is to see that girls and women no longer have to fear other people harming them. Starting with the girls in my school.

            Using the one thousand dollars given to me by Boston Glow, I would create a program for girls at my school, a program whose mission is to empower girls to be confident. It would not only be a group to teach girls how to protect themselves, but how to carry them, to project the aura of confidence. This program wouldn’t just be for girls who are timorous and lacked the skill to defend themselves: it would also reach out to girls who had an abundance of confidence, young women that could show other young women that it is good to be fearless. That it is good to be confident in everything us girls do.

The first of the 1000 dollars would be to go towards sending the girls to women’s self-defense seminars. Women Self-Defense Boston in Charlestown host free scenario classes for women eighteen and above, but host seminars to teach young women, 16-22 to defend themselves against abuse, robberies, assaults and more. Although the seminars are free, there would be money involved in order to get to these seminars. Each girl would need at least five dollars to get to and from the event, and if there were ten girls who went to each, that would be fifty dollars per seminar went to. In the course of a year, it would be safe to say there would be several seminars. Each girl would have to be over sixteen in order to attend the seminars.

The girls above sixteen who will have attended those seminars would then return to the other girls and teach the other girls what they had learned. Instead of surrounding young women with people who can protect them, this would instead be teaching the young women how to be the person protecting the other young women. As the old Confucian proverb goes, “Give a man a fish, feed him for a day, but teach a man to fish and you’ll feed him for a life time.” This program would not only go to just protect other young women, but to teach the girls how to show other girls what to do in each scenario. A supplement to girls teaching other girls would be to also give my group a book called The Gift of Fear and Other Survival Signals That Protect Us From Violence, by Gavin De Becker. This book is an acclaimed national best seller, that teaches readers how to see signs of violence before it happens so you may evade an assault altogether. There are also alarms that are made, piercing sounds that are emitted from key chains that one can carry on their person. Even though the program would hopefully teach the girls to be safe without the alarms, it is just an extra reassurance for the girls, which anyone could benefit from. It gives them yet another reason to be confident. Through teaching girls how to defend themselves if they may encounter an assault, and teaching them how to avoid them as well, my program would be giving girls the tools to be confident in themselves and their ability to walk alone.

Another portion of my program would be making girls aware of what is going on with women around the world. So often, it is easy to forget that other things are happening around the world besides what we see ourselves. I recently watched a documentary called “Half the Sky,” a very jarring, moving, and informational documentary about what happens to women in other countries besides our own. And I believe that it is important for girls to be aware that there is sex trafficking still happening, there is rape still happening, and there is abuse to women still happening. There are all these things and the people around these occurrences choose to not see what is going on and turn their heads from these atrocities. By showing this documentary to the girls in my program, I would hope that the documentary would move them like it did me, and encourage them to be aware of what is going on and to spread the awareness to others.

The last part of my program would be recording what we do. Money would be go toward a video camera, a $200 dollar camcorder to videotape sessions that we have. This would document what we do, but from the videos we make, it would enable us to make a documentary to show other schools what we do, and to instruct others how to recreate a program such as mine. Modern technology allows us to post the videos we make onto YouTube, or make websites and blogs for other young women to follow. This leads us to our final expense: a laptop. We would need a laptop in order to edit videos and upload them to a website or blog we could create and maybe onto a YouTube channel that we would create. By posting videos and accounts we would be able to reach even further than the girls we see face to face in our program. We would be another source for young women like us to learn from.

In the end, my program’s goal would not just be to teach girls to be confident and defend themselves. Yes, that is the programs main focus but what goes without saying would be the bonds and friendships that this program would generate. It would create a sisterhood and a place where young women can be themselves, a place where they can let loose, enjoy the company of others and create friendships that last forever. My vision for my program would be to teach girls how to lead their peers, how to teach others to be safe, and to reach out to other young women and give them the power to be confident.


                                                                                             Total Expense: $969.98






The Gift of Fear and Other Survival Signals that Protect Us From Violence, By Gavin De Becker

15 books for the girls to read from and keep @ $16.00 each.

To teach the girls in the program to protect themselves and how to look for signs of violence in other people


Keychain Personal Alarm with a Light from

15 Keychain with an loud alarm and flashlight @ $10.00 each

For the girls to keep on them to alert others if they are bothered, and still don’t know how to protect themselves



30 t-passes loaded with 5 dollars each

To transport girls who are over to and from 3 seminars


Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity or Women World Wide



Documentary from PBS

To open awareness to teens of the au courant oppression and violence against women world-wide.


Video Camcorder

1 Video camera with color video and voice recording

For girls to document what is done in program and also to make a documentary of how to start another program such as this one


Acer Laptop

Acer - 11.6" Chromebook - 2GB Memory - 320GB Hard Drive - Iron Gray


Use for creating blogs and editing and posting the “documentaries” made by girls in program.

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