As the head of Lincoln School, an all-girls Quaker school in Providence, I witness the empowerment of girls every day. Lincoln students are leading in all areas, in the classroom, on the stage and on the playing field.
The norm at Lincoln School is that girls are speaking up, sharing their opinions, debating with each other and asking tough questions. They are finding their voices in an environment that puts girls first. Celebrating the potential of girls and young women is exactly what the Girls Scouts stands for. The Girl Scouts has been promoting the strength, confidence and resilience of girls for more than 100 years. The same goes for Lincoln School, which was founded in 1884. That's two-plus centuries of giving girls a space in which to express themselves. There is a unique confidence that girls develop when they can see firsthand, through positive role models and access to opportunities, examples of who they can become.
Lincoln girls, like Girl Scouts, stand on the shoulders of the women who came before them, women who broke the mold, persevered and made history.
While I believe the Boy Scouts' decision to admit girls is a step toward gender equity, that move in no way devalues the remarkable female-first environment that the Girl Scouts is committed to providing. Some people believe that if their daughters go to an all girls school, then they will not be prepared for the co-ed world. The opposite is true.
Lincoln students and Girl Scouts are more prepared because they are encouraged to be themselves every day in a culture that knows and supports them. They practice the hard stuff of trial and error, which leads to resilience, and resilience in turn leads to confidence. This becomes part of their DNA, which girls take with them into the world of college and beyond.
The proof is, as they say, in the pudding. Here are the words of a recent Lincoln alumna in response to our celebration of the October holiday International Day of the Girl: “Of course I love celebrating a day like International Day of the Girl… But for the last 16 years, every day has felt like today. Every day we were celebrated, empowered, inspired and praised for the strength, accomplishments and possibilities that females not only in our school but all over the world attain.
“Every day we challenged the norms, pushed the boundaries and strived for success #LikeAGirl… Though I have moved on from Lincoln, I still carry the lessons, values, and passion for women's empowerment with me today and forever moving forward and for that, I am eternally grateful. So today and always, 'Here's to strong women. May we know them. May we be them. May we raise them.'”
It is in this spirit that I look forward to our future, one in which generations of girls and young women discover and embrace their limitless potential, and use it to shape the world.
Suzanne Fogarty is the head of Lincoln School and a 2017 Leading Women of Distinction Honoree.