Girls Inc. inspiring young female leaders For centuries

On International Women's Day, we celebrate the great strides women around the world have achieved and the challenges women are determined to overcome. 

This year, the power behind the message to push boundaries and persevere is more potent than ever.

Girls Inc. is a national organization founded in 1864 that inspires girls to be strong, smart and bold.

"We have a verified and evaluated youth development model with all kinds of curriculum that we know address the needs of youth today: health and wellness, body positivity, media literacy, financial literacy, access to college readiness and future careers that increase their self-determination," said Cyreena Boston Ashby. 

Boston Ashby is the CEO of Girls Inc. of the Pacific Northwest. She has two daughters of her own and is passionate about empowering women.

"This international women’s day has a bit more meaning for me as a woman and definitely the leader of our organization," she said. 

We've come a long way but she says there's so much more to do.

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"Women who come from backgrounds where they’re black, indigenous, women of color, they will be paid less than their counterparts even if they are more qualified and work harder or differently than their counterparts, particularly white men. And so I think we have to continue to address the pay equity issue," said Boston Ashby. 

Paving her own path on this fight for equality is Amaya Gustave.

"We are not prioritizing the valuable people in our society that contribute to our functioning world, and I want to be able to make policies and to pass policies that positively affect community members and help people survive," said Amaya Gustave of Portland. 

The 19-year-old sophomore at Pitzer College in California attributes her leadership and motivation to the 10 years she spent with Girls Inc. 

"I deserve a spot and I deserve a chance and I think that's one of the biggest lessons I learned through Girls Inc, and that I still preach with my leadership today as a black woman," said Gustave.

Right now Girls Inc. offers after school programs in Seattle and Highline Schools, but the organization is working to reach more young women through other virtual options.

On Friday April 23rd, Girls Inc. is hosting its virtual Strong, Smart and Bold Brunch to connect the community with their mission and help fundraise some much-needed money to continue their program. For more information, click here