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Innovating the Future: International Day of the Girl Child

Innovating the Future: International Day of the Girl Child

It’s going to take some creative thinking to get from here to equality, and we need to get everyone involved. Fortunately, a new generation of innovators, scientists, and astronauts are setting the standard for an early start. They say that children are the future for a reason. They are not as restricted by the ideas many adults have that hold us back from thinking in an innovative, unique way -  the world is limitless to them. We’ve learned through recent events that kids bring smart solutions to problems, prompting us to ask: “Why didn’t we think of that before?” How are the strides we’re making today laying the foundation for the changes that come from true innovation? What can we do to support kids in their creative problem solving and build a brighter future?

At the 2019 Mobilize Women Summit, Meridith Maskara, CEO of Girl Scouts of Greater New York, joined future astronaut and literacy advocate Taylor Richardson, and scientific designer Ashley Voisin for an honest discussion about how kids will change the world, and how innovation today will help build a better tomorrow.

As Meridith said when she teed up the conversation, “the future generation is making us innovate in our roles now. “ I couldn’t agree more. Thinking about and planning for the next wave of customers, employees, activists and change markers is driving innovation in new and unique ways. For example, Gen Z has always known iPhones, had access to limitless information, and global communities. How do we continue to move at the same pace as this next generation and learn from them as we grow?

Here are a few takeaways from the conversation that we can all tap into as we innovate for the future:

Role Models are important.

Meridith Maskara is my role model. I’ve known her for years and am continuously impressed by the countless ways that she supports girls in NYC through her role as CEO of the Girl Scouts of Greater NYC. Under her leadership, GSGNY has developed a Leadership Institute that is supporting 100s of girls each year in developing 21st-century skills for success such as innovation, resilience, collaboration, critical thinking, and subject-specific skills through relevant, real-world projects designed to make the world a better place. Meridith continues to show me that true leaders listen to their customers (in this case, 31,000 girls ages 5 to 17 in NYC) and then work tirelessly to solve for their needs today and in the future.

Taylor gained inspiration from Dr. Mae Jamison, the first African American female astronaut (whom she met in real life!), as well as her local mentor Darnell Smith and her mom. This shows how the people in our lives, even from a young age, have a lasting impact on our future dreams and aspirations. Readers, don’t underestimate the impact you have on this next generation!

Ashley shared that her mentors are the people at Fuse33, a Makerspace in Calgary. This community is always on hand to offer her support, advice, and resources as she builds her business. Community is key!

Community is key.

My network has always been a source of inspiration and innovation. The diversity of thoughts and ideas inspires me every day. Meridith summed this up when she said, “having a network is your biggest asset. We can’t do it alone. Keep them on your journey.” Community comes in many forms. Along with the Fuse33 community, Taylor credits her sister for not only inspiring her to get into fashion and STEM but for also being a resource to bounce ideas off of and supporting her through their shared experiences.

Supporting communities is powerful.

Not only are communities so important for innovation and personal growth, but they are also ecosystems that provide ample opportunities for each of us to create change for others. As we think about innovating the future, a considerable aspect of this is also making the future better. And that starts today. I’m written before about how we can help future generations be activists and recently spoke with Être Girls about ways to inspire activism. But Ashley and Taylor are doing this every day. Ashley went to Nova Scotia for a workshop with an indigenous community to teach them how to merge fashion and technology with their traditional regalia. Taylor was inspired by her grandmother who taught her to always give back to the community. She merged her passion for giving back, STEM, and supporting African American girls into a powerful campaign to create change. Taylor says, “no matter where you come from or what you look like, you can accomplish anything.”

The Future is Bright.

Known as the social justice warrior generation, Gen Z has a unique ability to mobilize and take action. They can change the world and who better to support them than each of us? So what can you do to support Gen Z? Taylor asked that you mentor, coach, invest, be inclusive, be accepting of younger generations, help them. Ashley adds that we can help by teaching later generations about our mistakes so they can learn from them and not make them again.

The Girl Scouts has a campaign called G.I.R.L, which stands for Go-Getter, Innovator, Risk-Taker, Leader. When Meridith asked Taylor which letter she represented, Taylor responded, “all of them.” That sums it up! Here’s to Gen Z and all supporters who are innovating for a brighter future.

Have more questions? Follow up with the expert herself.


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