By: Rochelle de Goias

Today is International Women’s Day: a day to celebrate women’s progress and accomplishments while also acknowledging that gender inequality still exists. This year’s theme, #BalanceForBetter, is focused on changing the way we see gender represented in our communities, on our televisions, in our boardrooms, in our classrooms and in our world as a whole.

I believe each person has a role and responsibility to do what we can to ensure the next generation of girls live in a world where gender inequality is no longer an issue. Girls E-Mentorship (GEM), strongly believes in #BalanceForBetter, and is closing the gender gap through the power of female mentorship.

I started GEM because I saw an opportunity to strengthen the resolve of young girls whose career aspirations seem unachievable because of the barriers they face. As a young woman, I lacked female mentors who could provide me with the support and guidance I felt I needed as I began my career.

Mentorship—specifically women mentoring other women—is important in our ability to achieve gender equality in all aspects of our society.  Mentorship can come in many forms, and ultimately gives young girls a platform to reach their goals and aspirations. At GEM, we are fostering mentorship relationships to empower young girls to pursue their goals, give them tools to succeed, and encourage them to share their voice.

Exposure to female role-models in male-dominated industries 

GEM is encouraging female representation in male-dominated industries by exposing young girls to the possibilities that await them in all industries, regardless of gender. Making the connection between their aspirations, and the women who are currently achieving them, gives them the assurance that anything they aspire to do is possible.

Being connected to a network of inspiring and talented women

Lacking female mentorship in my own life made me want to create a community of strong women supporting other women. At GEM, professional women from a variety of different industries are matched with high school girls, so that they receive the support and guidance that will give them the confidence to advocate for themselves and their dreams. Whether it be skill building, career guidance, or post-secondary advice, having a mentor can help girls on their trajectories overcome barriers that stand in their way.

Providing girls with opportunities they may not have access to

A common problem many young girls face, especially girls in the GEM program, is lack of opportunity. Although they have the motivation, drive and enthusiasm to take control of their future, not having equal access to opportunity can significantly inhibit and impede a girls success. In collaboration with our community and corporate partners, we provide girls with opportunities to experience real-life work settings through workshops, panel sessions and job shadow days.

Standing by our commitment to #BalanceForBetter is something we must do both today, and everyday. It is our responsibility to support the next generation of girls so that they can end the cycle of inequality, ensuring gender balance in our communities is the norm and not just an idea.