Event focuses on advocacy for women

PORTLAND, Maine (NEWS CENTER) -- Throughout a two-day celebration, more than 300 girls took part in leadership programs focused on women and advocacy.

It's called "Girls Rock! Weekend," an annual event put on by the Hardy Girls Healthy Women organization based in Waterville.

Saturday's conference held at King Middle School in Portland featured "Widening the Lens: Media Literacy from a Feminist Perspective," by Katie Heimer of Cambridge and Harvard College Women's Centers.

Girls in grades 4-8 were invited to participate in workshops aimed to dispel negative stereotypes of women, empowering them to stand against the stereotypes in their schools.

"We're trying to ban words like nerd and bossy and wimpy and all those other mean words," said 10-year-old Jane Way of North Yarmouth.

The adults workshop tackled the portrayal of women in the media and how to address that with their kids.

"If we can make girls more aware of the forces that are presenting them with this information, then they will be more powerful in standing up to it," said Jane's Mom, Sarah Way.

Hardy Girls Healthy Women President Kelli McCannell says the non-profit organization uses a metaphor for explaining society's affect on girls and women.

"if we look at our culture, it's really toxic soil. And yet we're saying, how come you're not growing right? How come you're not blossoming? And so what we wanted to teach the parents is you have control over that soil," said McCannell. "You have control over how much they're watered and how much sunshine they get."


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