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Dr. Carla Featured Speaker at National Center for Civil and Human Rights Panel on Women & Girls

NCCHR LogoOver the weekend, I had the opportunity to speak to a diverse group of 200 women and girls in Atlanta, GA as a participant on a panel sponsored by the Women’s Initiative Task Force for the National Center for Civil and Human Rights.  The purpose of the dialogue was to explore how women and girls in metropolitan Atlanta can come together to break down generational, cultural, and socioeconomic barriers to positively impact the lives of women and girls in the areas of education, leadership, economic empowerment, and health and safety.

As a health educator, researcher, speaker, coach, and founder of Helping Our Teen Girls In Real Life Situations, Inc. (HOTGIRLS)®, I am passionate about all of these issues. I have devoted nearly two decades of my life to uplifting adolescent girls by conducting research on women’s and girls’ health issues and developing programming that addresses pertinent public health and social justice issues such as girls’ education, health disparities, HIV/AIDS, sexual health, youth violence, teen dating violence, and media literacy.

As we discussed girls’ leadership and economic empowerment, I was inspired to ask the audience if they had heard about an amazing girl empowerment movement called The Girl Effect. I was surprised that less than half of the audience was familiar with the powerful videos that left me in tears the first time I watched them. Simply put, the Girl Effect describes “the unique potential of 600 million adolescent girls to end poverty for themselves and the world.” According to The Girl Effect, when we invest in a young girl’s education in the developing world, she grows up to be a woman who can support herself and pull her entire family out of poverty.  Here’s why:

  • When a girl in the developing world receives seven or more years of education, she marries four years later and has 2.2 fewer children.
  • An extra year of primary school boosts girls’ eventual wages by 10 to 20 percent. An extra year of secondary school: 15 to 25 percent.
  • When women and girls earn income, they reinvest 90 percent of it into their families, as compared to only 30 to 40 percent for a man.

Despite all of the unsettling public health and social justice issues facing adolescent girls around the world, there is good news: Research indicates that we can make a huge impact on solving global problems like HIV/AIDS, poverty, and illiteracy just by supporting adolescent girls. Although The Girl Effect emphasizes the plight of adolescent girls in the developing world, I have personally witnessed the power of education, self-empowerment, and leadership to positively transform the lives of girls in the United States.

Here’s a video clip from the panel discussion:


L-R: Angela Robinson, Emmy award-winning Broadcast Journalist; The Honorable Nan Orrock, Georgia Senator, District 36; My amazing 13-year-old mentee, Mary -Pat Hector, Founder & National President of Youth In Action; Jessamyn Ressler-Maerlender, Interim Executive Director of The Refugee Women’s Network, Inc.; Dr. Carla StokesDawnn Lewis, Actress & Singer; Deborah Richardson, Executive Vice President of the National Center for Civil and Human Rights

The event culminated with each participant filling out a commitment card and pledging to commit to making a difference in the lives of women and girls. This task felt natural for me because it is in alignment with my personal mission to help women, youth, and girls achieve their personal best in life, make healthy choices, and create positive change in their own lives and communities. On a personal level, I am committed to expanding my girl empowerment programming and reaching women and girls around the world through speaking, writing, and creating curricula and programming devoted to supporting adolescent girls in realizing their full potential. To this end, I am currently writing a book and developing a health education, life coaching, and empowerment curriculum for adolescent girls. It was inspiring to have the opportunity to brainstorm with women and girls across generations and learn that we are all concerned about our collective empowerment and committed to taking action to improve the health and lives of women and girls.

A few days after the panel discussion, I was excited to learn that hundreds of bloggers are joining together to spread the word about The Girl Effect during the week of October 4-11. How’s that for synchronicity?

I'm part of the girl effect blogging campaign. Join me today.

Watch these inspiring videos to learn about the Girl Effect and find out why girls are “the most powerful force of change on the planet”:

Click here to watch more Girl Effect videos.

I hope that you are as inspired by the Girl Effect campaign as I am and will join me in helping girls reach their full potential. Even if you are not involved in girl empowerment efforts, there are many ways that you can help this movement and be part of the solution.

So what are you going to do to help uplift girls? Leave me a comment and let me know how you are committed to making a difference in the lives of  girls!

How You Can Help

  • Spread the Word About The Girl Effect – You can help spread the word by forwarding this post to a friend or colleague, sharing the videos, tweeting, posting on Facebook, planning a party, and more! Click here for other ideas.
  • Join The Girl Effect Blogging Campaign – If you feel moved to spread this message, I hope you’ll join me in writing a post about The Girl Effect during the week of October 4-11. Joining the Girl Effect Blogging Campaign is a great way to connect with other bloggers who are committed to empowering girls. Just click here to learn more and sign up! You’ll receive the details on how to create your post. I hope you’ll join me!
  • Volunteer your time to girl-serving organizations
  • Be a mentor to a teen girls
  • Donate to organizations that educate and empower girls – As the founder of Helping Our Teen Girls In Real Life Situations, Inc. (HOTGIRLS)®, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization dedicated to improving the health and lives of underserved young women and girls, I know first-hand how challenging it can be to raise funds for girl empowerment organizations — especially in the current economic climate.  I encourage you to contribute financially to support the important work of girl empowerment organizations that are working to positively impact the lives of girls.

More Information

More from Dr. Carla:

About Dr. Carla

Dr. Carla Stokes, Ph.D., M.P.H., is a girl empowerment expert, professional speaker and women's health advocate. As a certified life coach and founder of Teen Girl University™, she helps young women, girls and parents thrive through the pressures and transitions of the teen and tween years. Through Dr. Carla's A Heart for Girls™ Business Academy, she helps women with a heart for empowering girls build sustainable speaking and coaching businesses. A multi-passionate social entrepreneur, Dr. Carla is also the founder of Helping Our Teen Girls In Real Life Situations, Inc. (HOTGIRLS)®, an award-winning 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization dedicated to improving the health and lives of underserved young women and girls. Her work has been featured in media outlets including The New York Times, NBC, CBS, Fox, Reuters, Woman's Day and Ebony. [Read More About Dr. Carla...]


  1. Oh MY Dr. Carla! This is an amazing post. So well written and your love for empowering women shines through – I can feel the vibration all the way here in DUBAI! In addition, I am admiring the fact that you wear so many hats and do so with ease and grace. I loved reading this post and knowing that they’re women like yourself doing this important work in many different arenas.

  2. Thanks Nasrine! I’m glad you enjoyed my post and appreciate your kind words. What are the biggest challenges facing girls in Dubai?

  3. Traci Burton says:

    I am absoultely inspired by your work and the different things that you do as a girls advocate. I want to model my work after yours and I am just wondering if you have any tips regarding getting involved with things such as girl effect and how to start my own initiatives; I have so many in mind. I have a mind full of ideas regarding non profit organizations and things to better girls and women across the world, just stuck on how to get started! Anyway thanks for being such an inspiration.

  4. Hi Traci, Thanks for your comment! I think it’s great that you’re passionate about starting your own initiatives and I’m glad to see you back on my blog. I recommend writing your ideas down to get them out of your head. You could write them down on index cards and organize them to see which ideas go together and which ones stand alone. Then rank the top 1-3 that you’re most excited and passionate about. Then decide which one you want to take action on and set some goals and action steps. A confused mind doesn’t take action, so the first step is to get clear.

    I recommend starting out small and volunteering with an organization in your area to get more clarity about how you can use your gifts and strengths to help girls and women. Also, be choosy about who you share your ideas with. You might also want to check out – Are you still in Atlanta?…in high school or college?

  5. PS – Sorry for the delay. I’ve been out sick for the past week.

  6. I am actually still in Atlanta, I’m a senior this year! Thanks so much for the tips, I have already taken heed. Also, I hope you are feeling much better now….

  7. You’re welcome and thanks! Check your email in a few minutes 🙂

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