While we are living in these uncertain times it is easy to forget recent activities that brought us joy. One of these particular activities that I experienced recently was “Voter Girl”, a collaboration of Girl Scouts of Northern New Jersey and the League of Women Voters.
Holding signs and chanting, Girl Scout Brownies led a group of young ladies around Berkeley College reenacting the parades that women once held in their quest to win the right to vote. As part of the program, girls ages 6 through 18, learned about the 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment and the League of Women Voters. Volunteers from the League led workshops and talked about their role in getting everyone out to vote.
Local elected officials also came out to support the event. Passaic County Clerk Danielle Ireland-Imhof spoke about her run for office and how she had to get out of her comfort zone. She told of the courage of Malala Yousafzai and her fight for the right for girls in her country to obtain an education. She also spoke of Lilly Ledbetter’s fight for equal pay for women, and Stacey Abram’s fight for fair elections.
Assemblywoman Lisa Swain reflected on her journey into politics. She said she first became interested in advocating for what is right when she was still in school. She fought to establish a track team at her high school because there was no track team for girls. As an adult, she joined the PTA and later ran for town council, before running for State Assembly.
Other elected officials included Cristina Cutrone, councilwoman in Fair Lawn. She was eager to support the Voter Girl event because she “wanted to show girls that leadership can look like them.”
Girls were able to vote in mock elections using real voting machines provided by Passaic County Board of Elections. Girl Scout Karina, of Bloomingdale, said it was a great experience and she and the other girls ”learned how to use the real voting machines.”
One of the girl workshops also included a debate. Girls learned how to take opposing sides of an issue and practice in a mock debate. Another workshop focused on the branches of our government and how they work together.
Voter Girl is just one of the many program activities that Girl Scouts offer to help girls develop their voice and learn about advocacy. Girls who participated in this event earned a civics badge, but they also learned that the right to vote was a battle proudly taken on by female leaders a century ago and a battle that still continues today for many people.
Through workshops and interaction with elected officials, the girls learned that there is still much work to do. As an organization, it is our goal and mission to give girls the voice and leadership skills to pave the way for future generations of girls and young women. One day our Girl Scouts will be talking about Voter Girl and how they found the courage, confidence, and character to take the lead.