Strong Girls Make Strong Women
WomenStrong International has seen the power of groups and the importance of life skills education in empowering girls and young women to thrive socially, physically, and financially. Our Handbook was developed in partnership with WomenStrong Consortium members in Ghana, Kenya, India, and Haiti, based on their experiences running Girls’ Clubs for over 10,000 girls and boys. It incorporates best practices promoted by renowned youth development and life skills education specialists worldwide.
Our Handbook includes a step-by-step Guide to setting up a Club, as well as a downloadable 16-chapter curriculum. The curriculum, which is modular and can be used in segments or collectively as needed, is designed to equip young people with the skills and protective assets they need, in order to thrive in today’s world. Each chapter can be downloaded individually below and can be used independently from other chapters of the Handbook.
Strong Girls Make Strong Women was written for those interested in leading or learning more about Girls’ or Boys’ Clubs, including educators, parents, mentors, community and religious leaders, governments, non-governmental organizations, scholars, and funders.
Download the Handbook
Please find below the downloadable files for each section and chapter of our Handbook. You are welcome to download the full Handbook in one file or to download only the sections and chapters you need. We have provided short explanations about each file below.
We welcome you to contact us if you have any questions regarding Strong Girls Make Strong Women, would like to order a hard copy or copies of our Handbook, or share your experiences using it. To start the conversation, please write to email@example.com. Additionally, this one-pager on the Handbook is an easily sharable overview of the Handbook’s content, purpose, and potential uses.
Enjoy the full Strong Girls Make Strong Women Handbook!
Our Strong Girls Make Strong Women Handbook begins with a Start-Up Guide focused on questions to consider when forming your own Girls’ or Boys’ Club and includes the following sections: Planning for a Girls’ Club, Club Design and Formation, and Club Management.
A fully downloadable 16-chapter curriculum follows. Chapters can be used independently as appropriate, enabling users to teach those topics they believe can best help girls or boys meet their own needs in their own individual settings. Download the Full Curriculum here.
In the following sections, we provide a brief summary of each chapter’s contents, so that you can best select which chapters are relevant for the girls and boys with whom you work.
In this introductory chapter, girls learn what a Girls’ Club is! They share what they hope to get out of the Club and why they joined. Girls begin building relationships with each other and establishing a safe space for their Club by writing a Girls’ Club Constitution. This activity teaches girls the importance of rules in all parts of life and society.
In Chapter 2, girls look at the major events in their lives and identify things that helped them get where they are today. They are introduced to the concept of goals, including “S.M.A.R.T.“ goals, and begin to create goals for themselves. They discuss how to overcome potential obstacles to meeting those goals, and identify actions they can start taking now to achieve their goals.
In this Chapter, girls learn about the benefits of completing school and the importance of education in all aspects of life. Girls also identify obstacles to staying in or returning to school and learn to be prepared to face obstacles and deterrents to their education, such as drugs and alcohol.
Chapter 4 teaches girls the concept of self-esteem and carries out two activities to boost their own self-esteem. Girls also learn about teamwork and explore the concept of peer educators and mentorship. Lastly, girls have the opportunity to experience leadership through a fun activity and then, as a group, to explore the qualities of their leadership role models.
In Chapter 5, girls learn about nonverbal communication, the importance of listening, and how to manage feelings of stress. This chapter introduces the concepts of aggressive, assertive, and passive communication and allows the girls to practice assertive communication. Girls also learn how to deal with feelings of anger and how to resolve conflicts between or among people.
In this chapter, girls map the relationships in their lives and learn new skills to improve communication in one of their most important relationships – the relationship with their parents. Girls discuss the positive qualities of good friends and learn how to respond to bad friends or others who might put pressure on them. This chapter also differentiates between love and sex and teaches ways to resist any external pressure to have sex. Lastly, girls learn the basics of internet safety and how to prevent or deal with cyberbullying.
This chapter teaches girls the difference between gender and sex, helps the girls identify gender stereotypes and discrimination in their community and in their daily lives, and gives girls ideas for how to challenge those gender roles. Girls learn the importance of tolerance and respect, especially of people who are different from them and learn about differences in sexual orientation and gender identity.
In this chapter, girls learn the basics of puberty through lecture and some discussion, with the aid of useful diagrams demonstrating changes in the body. This chapter contains activities that dispel myths and teach the facts about menstruation. Lastly, girls will play fun games and activities to learn how to care for their changing adolescent bodies.
In this chapter, girls learn about the male and female reproductive systems and how reproduction works, the many forms of contraceptives, and the importance of family planning. Girls also learn the facts about HIV and sexually transmitted infections (STIs), including transmission, treatment, and how to protect themselves from contracting these infections.
Chapter 10 introduces girls to the concept of human rights and to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child. This chapter also connects human rights to the girls’ everyday lives and explains how girls can take actions to promote human rights in their own communities.
This chapter introduces gender-based violence and sexual violence by discussing what kind of touches are good, confusing, and bad. Girls learn methods of preventing violence, including powerfully saying, “No!” and how to report violence to a trusted adult. Girls explore safety in their community by creating a safety map of the places they frequently visit. This chapter also touches on traditional harmful practices, specifically, female genital mutilation, forced marriage, and child marriage.
Girls learn how to wash their hands properly and why hand-washing is important. This chapter also teaches how to identify clean water sources, how to purify water, how to safely store water, and how to access stored water cleanly. Girls also learn about basic hygiene and safety regarding toilets and waste management.
In this chapter, girls play a sport and exercise and then discuss the benefits of lively physical activity. Girls also learn about nutrition and food by using the Food Pyramid.
In this chapter, the Facilitator leads the girls through a visioning exercise that gives them the opportunity to imagine their futures. The girls then translate those dreams into S.M.A.R.T. goals and learn about the cycle of goals. Girls then discuss decision-making, examine the “decision points” we encounter in our lives every day, and learn a useful simple tool called, "The 3 C’s of Decision-Making.”
In this chapter, girls think about how they earn money, about their expenses in terms of their needs versus wants, and estimate their own cost of living as part of planning to achieve their goals. Girls learn different ways to earn money, about the 8 simple steps to savings, including why and how to save, and about budgeting.
In this final chapter, the girls reflect on what they have learned in the Club, how what they have learned will make a difference in their lives after they leave the Club, and how they can positively influence their communities based on what they have learned here.
The following files are the annexes of Strong Girls Make Strong Women. They can be downloaded together in the file directly below, or individually, as needed.
This Handbook draws from experts in the field of youth and girls’ development and education, and would not have been possible without the enthusiastic support of the following organizations and individuals: Alice Visionary Foundation Project, Amnesty International, Asia Initiatives, Bloomberg School of Public Health at Johns Hopkins University, DHAN Foundation, Elisa Knebel, FHI 360, Girl Effect, Girl Pride Circle, Haiti Adolescent Girls Network, Haiti Outreach Pwoje Espwa (H.O.P.E.), Human Rights Campaign Foundation, Institute of Reproductive Health at Georgetown University, International Rescue Committee, IRC International Water and Sanitation Centre, LitWorld, Live & Learn Environmental Education, Melissa Donohue, Peace Corps, Population Council, Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights, the Safe Schools Program by DevTech Systems, Save the Children, Simply Outrageous Youth, South African Medical Research Council, Teachers College, Columbia University, United States Agency for International Development (USAID), Women’s Health to Wealth, and the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts.
About WomenStrong International
WomenStrong International is a global community of organizations working with women and girls to end extreme urban poverty. We start and end by listening to urban women and girls, who know best what they need, in order to thrive. WomenStrong finds, funds, nurtures, and shares women-driven solutions that can transform lives. Learn More