'We are strong': International Day of the Girl celebrated in Pittsfield

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PITTSFIELD — #Bold. #Smart. #GirlPower.

Signs emblazoned with those words were among the two dozen homemade posters young ladies from Girls Inc. of the Berkshires waved enthusiastically to passing motorists on East Street Thursday afternoon. The girls and staff of Girls Inc. housed at the center were celebrating International Day of the Girl.

The female youngsters standing outside the Gladys Allen Brigham Community Center made it clear that gender shouldn't matter on the playground, in the classroom, workplace or anywhere else the sexes meet.

"We are strong and capable of many things," said 11-year-old Savanah Peterson-Holt. "I want to be a lawyer and photographer."

Savanah's best friend, Yanet Asnacke, also 11, has her future figured out: She wants to be an author.

"I want to write a cliffhanger. I like first-person point of view," Yanet said.

Seven years ago, the United Nations General Assembly declared Oct. 11 International Day of the Girl as a time to recognize girls' rights and promote girls' empowerment.

"Adolescent girls have the right to a safe, educated and healthy life, not only during these critical formative years, but also as they mature into women," according to the UN website.

Nationally, Girls Inc. issued a Girls' Bill of Rights four years ago letting young ladies know they have the right to free expression, seek the job they want and take pride in themselves.

Girls Inc. and Brigham Center offers local girls the opportunity to better themselves through education, enrichment programs, physical fitness and gender specific programming.

Since the era of the Equal Rights Movement nearly 50 years ago, gender equality "has come a long way, but we still have a ways to go," said Girls Inc. Program Director Sarah Gillooly.

That includes a ways to go in the workplace, for starters, according to outreach and sight coordinator Sidney Hamilton.

"Diversity in the workforce; we're not where we should be," she said.

Dick Lindsay can be reached at rlindsay@berkshireeagle.com and 413-496-6233.


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