Girls speak up through Rotary/Toastmaster alliance

Mary Shackleton

By Mary Shackleton, Empowering Girls Initiative Ambassador for Zone 32 (Bermuda; Northeastern USA) and Nikita Williams, Empowering Girls Initiative team member for Zone 28 (Canada; Michigan, Washington, and Alaska, USA)

Teenage girls all over the world struggle with self-confidence. Recently, a team of Rotary members and Toastmasters in our Rotary zones set out to help girls build their leadership skills. Both Rotary and Toastmasters International are committed to helping girls embrace their full potential.

We decided to use Toastmasters’ time-tested Youth Leadership Program (YLP) to benefit younger members of the Rotary community. Our effort, which we call the Empowering Girls YLP program, gives girls a space to discover and amplify their voices and ideas over eight weeks. The program’s unique, workshop-style design lets the girls develop speaking and leadership skills in a safe space. They learn about topics like Public Speaking; Using Body Language & Gestures; Active Listening; Giving Feedback; and Impromptu Speaking.

Nikita Williams

Nikita Williams, a member of Rotaract in District 7070 and a Toastmaster from Toronto, held a pilot program in Canada, while I worked with Interactors in Bermuda. It’s hard to put into words how happy I was to see the participants grow, hear them speaking with more confidence, and observe how their voices and ideas were amplified even amid the “likes” and “so yeahs.”

Our pilot programs were incredibly successful: At least 85% of the girls completed the programs and recommended them to others. We’re finishing a second round now. As one participant said:

“There’s no such word to describe how wonderful this program is to me. When I was in the meeting, I didn’t feel afraid of being an international student who might pronounce something awkwardly. I wasn’t afraid of people judging my beliefs. I feel love and appreciation because of who I am.”

If you’re a member of both Rotary and Toastmasters, you can ask your local Toastmasters District about starting YLP sessions with Interact clubs, schools, or community organizations in your Rotary district. If you don’t have any Toastmasters members in your club, you can reach out to a Toastmasters club near you that might be interested in collaborating. Toastmasters International has published a YLP Workbook and a Coordinator’s Guide with the key elements of a YLP. Our team is also developing tools and templates to help you get started. Contact us for more information.

Learn more about Rotary’s alliance with Toastmasters  

7 thoughts on “Girls speak up through Rotary/Toastmaster alliance

  1. Excelente me encantaría poder compartirlo en Latinoamérica con quien podemos contactar de habla hispana! ?
    EGD Olga Sánchez
    Embajadora Zona 23 b
    Programa ‘’Empoderamiento de las Niñas ‘’


  2. My name is Kathy Kruger from District 7210 and I am a Rotarian with RadioRotary. We would like someone to be on our show to talk about your experience.


  3. I became a member of toastmasters to help me during my year as president of our rotary club. It was a great program and I’m sure it would be very beneficial to young women in high school.


  4. When our child was young, the three “rules” we taught her were 1. SAFETY FIRST! 2. DON’T LET ANYONE PUSH YOU AROUND! 3. IF YOU ASK, YOU MAY GET. IF YOU DON’T ASK YOU WON’T GET! OUR CHILD is a top criminal prosecutor now.
    Years ago we learned that when the defense discovers who is the prosecutor, then they try to convince their clients to plead to lesser charges…


  5. Skill development courses to empowerment of the girls and ladies, is one of the most important areas for developing the world and growth.
    Adult education is very much needed too. Rotary clubs of india and other part of the country should be united to implement the feel-needs.
    I am representing one of the rotary clubs of india under the district 3291 as a president 2022-2023, my club group is very much willing to participate in this initiative.


  6. Pingback: Girls speak up through Rotary/Toastmaster alliance - Rotary Club of Medford Oregon

  7. Kenmore Rotary in Brisbane Australia has been facilitating a very similar program for Year 11 students at Kenmore State High School for five years
    Wonderful for all involved


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