GirlFriend Power: The new, new thing.

Women have always been connectors. We trot over with cookies to welcome the new neighbor, obsessively form book clubs, we keep in touch. But some women like Nancy Hunt are taking women’s gift for connectivity to a whole new level. It’s not about six degrees of separation in the world anymore – it’s about zero degrees. Check this out.

GirlFriend Power Broker, Nancy Hunt

Once upon a time a beautiful, accomplished blonde woman met a handsome, famous music producer who wrote one of the most beloved celebration songs of all time: We Are Family. Nancy and Nile fell in love and lived happily ever after …until 9/11 when Nancy & Nile said, “Hey, we need to do something.” So they created the We Are Family Foundation to promote global peace and understanding. Then Nancy saw Mattie J.T. Stepanek on Larry King and said, “We need to be making sure human needs are met, so that peace is possible.” So they started Three Dot Dash (which means “peace” in Morse code) with Global Teen Leaders they could bring together, encourage, mentor and support.

The indomitable Mitchel, at home in Nigeria

And that’s where Nancy met Mitchel Odiaka, an 18-year old from Nigeria who was going to be married as a traditional child-bride at the age of 12– until she stood up and said, “I don’t think so.” She convinced her parents not to make her marry for the obvious reasons: child-brides are promised at birth to men who pay their bride price, married at twelve, have children as mere adolescents, suffer fistulas and other disastrous health consequences, lose their ability to finish school, etc. etc.

Change starts with these girls, for whom Mitchel is advocating

Mitchel was so persuasive, she not only convinced her parents not to make her marry, she started an entire movement to challenge child-bride arrangements: AGENDA, or African Girl-Child Education Nurturing and Developing Action. Organizing road walks, rallies, seminars and community outreach, Mitchel and her empowered peers have visited 11 Nigerian states and influenced close to 23,000 girls to challenge this tradition. And most important, they’ve helped convince the government to put a stay on these types of arranged marriages.

Beautiful inside & out: Mitchel at CNN

For her activism, Mitchel was invited to the Three Dot Dash Just Peace Summit this March in New York City, was interviewed by CNN, and became fast friends with Nancy. It was only as she was leaving NYC  that Mitchel confided to Nancy that her dad had lost his job in Nigeria and she would not be able to start college. The family simply couldn’t afford it.

So Nancy tapped into the new, new thing. She reached out to her network of 30 girlfriends: among them a rock star, former head of a modeling agency, stay-at-home mum of three boys, actress, creator of a famous children’s character, art teacher, retired teacher, and me –and invited us to chip in $100 apiece to send Mitchel to college for a year. And in five days, she had the $3,000 to send to The University of Nigeria for Mitchel’s tuition, room and board.

This is Global GirlFriend Power, in action! From girls in Nigeria to women in Pakistan to grandmas in Peru to rock stars in Tribeca, women are reaching out across boundaries, languages and miles to help each other– and bringing all our girlfriends along with us. So grab your BFFs, find a cause, and make something good happen. We are connected and we are committed because we know… (everybody now!) We Are Family.

11 thoughts on “GirlFriend Power: The new, new thing.

  1. “Peace is possible, if we choose to make it something that really matters”… and “if we are creative and courageous in seeking solutions that balance the needs of all people.” — Mattie J.T. Stepanek.

    Thank you, Betty, for spreading the good word and blogging about this. Thank you, Nancy, for being creative in problem-solving a need. Thank you, Mitchel, for being courageous and believing in peace.

    Jeni Stepanek (“Mattie’s mom”).

  2. Women helping women…it’s a powerful place to start. If we help each other, the world will become a more peaceful place. It all starts here. I am trying to convince my soon-to-be 13 year old daughter to donate her Bat Mitzvah money to “Girl Power”…how powerful would it be to know that a girl turning 13 in the Jewish tradition could help a girl turning 13 in Nigeria.

  3. Love this piece! Nancy is genius! We are behind Mitchel all the way and will be tracking her because I believe she is going to continue to be a game changer.

  4. Hooray for Girlfriend Power!
    While your $100 goes to help the lives of others, your blog helps inspire us. There’s so much doom and gloom out there, but not here. Every day you let us know about another unselfish person/group of people who care enough to do something to help strangers, animals, or planet earth. Thank you Betty.

  5. Betty, I’m at a loss for words. This is such a beautiful piece.

    Before I even got out of bed this morning… you were on my mind. I was thinking that when I win the lottery, I want to give you $1 million to continue to do this blog until the end of time. It must be so rewarding, it must also be evolving how you write. And it’s improving my life and the lives of others… providing inspiration and allowing us to tap into what our own life’s purpose is.

    I know you’re probably manic most days in creating the perfect post, but trust me, it’s worth it!

    xo

  6. Great information about the potential of the women of the world to create a world in harmony.

    Here are a few interesting quotes about women and the future of humanity.

    “The lofty mission of women must be performed by the woman. And in the Temple of the Mother of the World should abide the woman.
    The manifestation of the Mother of the World will create the unity of women. The task now is to create a spiritually sovereign position for the woman.” MM

    “Indeed, Councils of Ministers will have to include women. Woman, who gives life to a people, must also have a voice in the making of its destiny. Woman must have the right of voice. If woman were accepted as was ordained, the World would be quite differently impregnated. Thus, only affirmation of the law of Existence can restore the order of man.” MM

    “By their own hands women of all races and beliefs will help to mold the steps of evolution. There should be no delay!” MM

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