90 West Broad St.
Columbus, OH 43215
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International Day of the Girl Op-Ed By Councilmember Priscilla Tyson
Thursday, October 11, 2018, is the International Day of the Girl. A day reserved to commemorate the importance of girls in our society. According to the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women statement for International Day of the Girl is “let us commit to investing in skills training and education for girls and livelihood activities for young women around the world who are facing crises.” Here in Columbus, I am working on an initiative to uplift one of the most vulnerable sectors of girls in our community – Black girls.
I created the Commission on Black Girls (CoBG) to understand the issues impacting Black girls in Columbus and to provide recommendations that will help transform lives. The Commission is focusing on girls between the ages 11-22.
Currently, Black girls are three times more likely to live in poverty, five times more likely to be suspended from school and twice as likely to be overweight and obese.
The issues that begin early in the lives of Black girls become pervasive as girls reach adulthood. Across the nation and in Columbus, Black women have substantially high rates of poverty, obesity, infant mortality and incarceration – when compared to other ethnic groups.
I created CoBG with the understanding that Black girls must be given the resources and benefits to improve their quality of life and the tools to make good long-term decisions.
This is personal. I understand the struggles, missed opportunities and pitfalls; but I also know the joys and triumphs that being a Black girl can bring. Further, at an early age I felt empowered to set my goals high and achieve them. I am now striving to pay-it-forward by empowering another generation of Black girls.
Currently, the Commission is in a fact-finding and education process to learn more about the quality of life of Black Girls from subject matter experts that present at Commission meetings. Research is also being conducted by Lathania Butler, Ph.D. of Thoughtwell. The research will be compiled from listening sessions which occurred in September of 2018. During these sessions, commissioners heard from service providers, parents/caregivers and girls between 11-22 years of age. Additionally, surveys and focus groups will be conducted in October and November.
Research will be concluded by the first quarter of 2019. Commissioners will then prioritize recommendations and transition into the implementation phase.
Twenty-five commissioners, appointed in July of 2018 have embarked upon this journey to improve the quality of life of Black girls in our community. Fran Frazier, the founder of “Rise Sister Rise,” and Dr. Frederic Bertley, CEO, Center of Science and Industry (COSI), were appointed to serve as Commission Co-Chairs. Commissioners that were appointed in July of 2018 will serve on the Commission until December of 2020 at which time the Commission will sunset unless Columbus City Council passes legislation to make CoBG permanent.