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Adolescent Girls’ Leadership Workshop

Date:06 Jan, 2015

Adolescent Girls’ Leadership Workshop

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Leadership Workshop,  January 2015

Co-developed and delivered by Sonia Lemus, ASOEMPO Girls Program Leader and Jude Claybourne, volunteer, professional actor and coach, UK.


  • The aim of the workshop was to use play and leadership to give the girls a joyful, empowered experience with each other.
  • To bring together girls from ten diverse communities in the area.
  • To inspire the girls to believe in themselves, feel more powerful and confident and to speak up for themselves.
  • To play, be positive, and get to spend time focused on them rather than anyone else.

What We Did:

  • We brought together 40 girls and young women from 10 different communities to spend two days together in a local community hall.
  • We combined leadership techniques with coaching and play to create a memorable experience for the girls.


  • Twice, the girls played football in the community’s open space. This was one of the few times this space was kept free for women only, unobserved by anyone else in the community.
  • Some made short presentations to the group about what leadership of self and others meant to them. This was a stretch and a challenge for them.
  • Many girls enjoyed the creative drawing exercise and some wrote a motivational letter to themselves.
  • Competitive sporting and team exercises brought the girls to life.
  • Though guided meditations were way out of their normal zone, many engaged and relaxed into them. We persisted. These internal experiences are done without the girls having to share any of the content, so their experience stays with them.


  • At the start of the workshop, saying their name to the group and making a simple movement was a huge challenge for many of the girls. The first to speak found it so hard that it took nearly two minutes for her to make a sound and most girls spoke no louder than a whisper.
  • We experimented with power poses (Amy Cuddy’s work), putting the body into big, symmetrical physical shapes, each of which the girls named (Victory, Superwoman etc). We started in English and named them in Spanish and Q’eqchi, the first language of the majority of the girls.
  • When we repeated this exercise the following day, many of these physical stances had made it into the mix, and the volume was much higher.
  • Physical movement loosened up the girls’ voices – when speaking loud wasn’t the point, they were happy to do it. They still felt the challenge of speaking in the group, but their volume and confidence were definitely higher after playing sport.


  • 40 girls attended, and a handful of their mothers – new friendships and support networks were formed
  • All the girls spoke up in the group.
  • They collaborated joyfully in group tasks, especially where competition was involved.
  • They took time out from their responsibilities as daughters and sisters to spend time on themselves. In itself, this is a huge achievement.