Why We Need To Create Brave Spaces For Girls

A foundational piece of our work at Girls Leadership is to create brave spaces — communities where girls feel seen, accepted, and loved by peers and adults — in person and online. Brave spaces are crucial because they allow for vulnerability, the safety to take risks, mess up, reflect, and recover, all while still belonging in the community. How can any of us learn and grow as humans and leaders if we don’t have the support of relationships that give us this ability to be brave?

Brave spaces are important for all students, but especially for girls, because of the gender expectations that tell girls their primary value is in how others see them: Are they likeable? Are they attractive and polite? These are the lessons that teach too many girls to put the feelings, needs, and opinions of others before their own. Fear of losing relationships or fear of what other people might think leads too many girls to keep their hands down in class, to hold their needs in with friends, or drop out of sports where they don’t feel connected and valued.

At Girls Leadership, we’ve been building brave spaces for girls for 20 years, and we’ve seen their transformative power on sports teams, in classrooms, and at camps. When we take the time and energy to build and sustain a brave space community, it encourages agency and leadership, and increases girls’ investment and engagement in their own development. That’s why we’re offering Brave Space Groundwork, a 2-hour workshop for youth-serving professionals on January 18. And we’re so excited to create brave spaces for girls (and their parents and caregivers) starting in January through our Girl & Grownup workshops (for grades K–8).

We realize that this is a hard time to be the brave version of ourselves. At a baseline (though truly, we can hardly believe we’re referring to a global pandemic as a baseline), the pandemic has left many of us anxious, stressed, and depressed. Layer on top continued injustices and atrocities based on race and gender, and the exhaustion and overwhelm goes to a whole different level. This is why creating brave spaces for our girls, especially girls of color, to heal is more important than ever.

Why We Need To Create Brave Spaces For Girls

Back in 2015, Girls Leadership co-founder Rachel Simmons wrote about the importance of microbravery: small, everyday risks that take us out of our personal comfort zones. Acts of microbravery abound in the everyday; for example, raising your hand in class, requesting a discount on a damaged item in a store, or trying out a new hairstyle. Microbravery is not showy on the surface, but these small acts of bravery can be life-changing. Big acts of bravery can seem unattainable to the girls and adults who want to try it, whereas microbravery allows us all to practice and develop the confidence that will eventually help them tackle bigger challenges.

Educators, administrators, school counselors, CBO staff, after-school staff, and other youth-serving professionals: you’re invited to join us January 18 for the Brave Space Groundwork workshop. In this interactive and engaging couple of hours, you’ll learn how to create brave spaces and center the SEL needs of all the youth you serve.

If you’re a parent or caretaker, our upcoming Girl & Grownup workshops (for grades K–8) offer brave and fun spaces for girls to explore the power of voice together. The Girl & Grownup workshops will help participants learn practical communication skills to put into practice right away.

Ready to get microbrave in community? We are ready to support you!

  1. Suzy Davies, Children's Author

    “At Girls Leadership, we’ve been building brave spaces for girls for 20 years, and we’ve seen their transformative power on sports teams…”

    It is my belief that the value of girls’ active participation in Sport has often been overlooked in a paradigm of patriarchy and tradition until only recently. The benefits of girls participating and succeeding in male-dominated sports cannot be underestimated if we are to create high-achieving role models – the girls who will become the women leaders of tomorrow.


Leave a Reply