Girls in Barbados face challenges in the form of street harassment, rape, relationship abuse, body image issues, discrimination by peers and adults, and workplace gender-based biases. I AM A GIRL BARBADOS addresses the mental health repercussions of these challenges, filling a much-needed service gap in the country.
I AM A GIRL BARBADOS works in Barbados with at-risk girls who are dealing with a wide range of issues from those as severe as rape by a family member to low self-esteem relating to their gender or body image. The organisation runs programmes that address five main themes: education, motivation, community empowerment, sustainable growth and social development. The organisation provides non-traditional skills building, motivational seminars, economic awareness workshops, dance and creative arts workshops, improvisation and acting classes and innovative entrepreneurship classes. The peer-to-peer programme Reach One, Teach One encourages girls turning 18 to become mentors to other young girls who may have experienced similar gender-based bias and issues.
I AM A GIRL BARBADOS also organises a yearly retreat which is designed to take girls away from an everyday environment rife with gender biases. Girls are taken to a safe space where their minds are challenged and their confidence is improved through team building sessions and art activities. The organisation produces plays, such as Just A Girl, which educates the community about issues affecting girls. It also runs a convention called Stop Hiding Behind Makeup, designed to help young girls and women realise the importance of their inner beauty and the value of skills rather than looks.
Photo: Aniya Legrano/Stars Foundation.