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Women participate in meet and greet at Women’s Empowerment Brunch before presentations.

Got the Intelligence to Rule my Life (G.I.R.L.) Inc. is a non-profit mentoring organization that serves young girls age eight through sixteen whose parents are or were incarcerated or absent in their lives. The organization seeks to empower young girls through mentorship that addresses the emotional and social isolation from families and friends in addition to portraying a positive outlook on healthy lifestyles.

G.I.R.L. Inc., founded by Jovon Gerald, hosted its inaugural “Women’s Empowerment Brunch” on July 19. The brunch was co-sponsored by the Northern Virginia chapter of Les Gemmes, a charitable, non-profit organization dedicated to providing youth, seniors, and families with opportunities and experiences in the areas of education, health, and cultural and civic involvement for the purpose of expanding and enhancing the quality of life in the local communities.

An array of local vendors, community leaders, and emerging female pacesetters converged to network and discuss the evolution and lagging progression of women in the workforce. In a relaxing setting with light jazz playing in the background and a brunch menu consisting of scrambled eggs, bacon, biscuits, and orange juice, the women heard stories from female leaders who have achieved success in their fields. The women – business owners, life coaches, and community and political leaders – shared insights on how they balanced their professional and personal life and how they built successful businesses.

As of 2013, women make up 50.8 percent of the U.S. population, and earn almost 60 percent of the undergraduate degrees and 60 percent of master’s degrees, said Dawn Brown, brunch host.

“Just as we’re making powerful strides in becoming fierce competitors in the workplace, on the political scene, and in sports arenas everywhere, we’re also facing disheartening statistics that are proving stagnant , and arguable regressive to our kind,” said Brown. “Our presence in top management positions remains below nine percent.”

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An array of vendors where also present at the Women’s Empowerment Brunch.

Beyond the empowerment session, the purpose of the hosting organization was not lost amidst the conversation on stemming the tide of female marginalization.

“The reason why I started the organization was because as a teacher, in my class I noticed a lot of girls that were withdrawn, isolated, and talking back… being disrespectful and fast. And after I surveyed a lot of these girls I realized that they had a common denominator,” Gerald said. “That common denominator was a parent who was missing, incarcerated, or just not there. I realized that these girls needed an outreach where they could come together to talk about their problems.”

So far, since its inception three years ago, the organization has expanded its outreach from serving one school to two schools in the District. Gerald boasts a roster of about 41 girls who the organization mentors.

“We teach them about everything from fitness and how to dress in an interview, to having safe sex,” said Gerald. “The purpose of the organization is also to break the potential cycle of family incarceration.”

Maria Adebola

Special to the AFRO