Girls Inspire Girls Summit looks to empower a new generation of female leaders

Jesse Thomas / Global News

As the world celebrated the International Day of the Girl on Friday, a women’s empowerment organization in Halifax wanted to keep the conversation going with a conference aiming to boost gender equality and inspire the next generation of women leaders.

More than 25 young women came together for the “Girls Inspire Girls Summit” to share their stories, with the goal to help youth realize their dreams, organizer Ifeoma Esonwune said.

READ MORE: Equality for girls everywhere as International Day of the Girl approaches

“From what I’ve seen in that room, girls were inspired,” said Esonwune. “And I always tell them, watch out because people are going to say you can’t, but you know what? Turn around and say, ‘just watch me,’ and just go for it girl.”

Mercy Olugu is a grade 10 student with a 97 per cent average, but she’s also a decorated athlete who one day wants to become a pediatrician.

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Olugu was born in Nigeria and in her life has had to endure pain from the loss of her twin sister, Goodness–who died in Nigeria from malaria when she’s was just 16 months old and for Mercy, she has learned to channel that pain of the loss of her sister into something good and that motivates and drives her.

“There’s a bigger reward for you if you actually channel that pain into doing something that’s more valuable and great towards the world,” said Olugu.

She raised $1,000 this past summer to help build a school back in Nigeria, where she traveled with her family for seven weeks. The experience helped her realize she wants to become a doctor and help eradicate malaria.

“The trip just made me want to do better and actually really focus on my dream of being a pediatrician,” she said, “because so many people need it back there, so many kids need it back there.”

READ MORE: Peterborough schools celebrate International day of the Girl

For the organizers of the summit, this is about empowerment and motivation.

Being in that room, it was hard not to feel inspired, said Emme Morin, a grade 10 student who shared her story of swimming more than six hours across the Northumberland Straight — from New Brunswick to Prince Edward Island — for a charity that is special to her.

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The 15-year-old has raised nearly $10,000 for Brigadoon Village, which is Canada’s largest pediatric illness camp.

“It was amazing to share my story, and hopefully I motivated other girls,” said Morin. “That’s my goal.”

Following her presentation, Morin delivered an exercise with her fellow participants to help them realize their dreams by writing them down and then sharing them with the group.

“If we’re practicing being goal-orientated now then hopefully we’ll be goal-orientated then too,” she said.

This was the first Girls Inspire Girls Summit and organizers believe the experience will expand the future for these fearless young women.


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