I’ve been wanting this to happen for about three years and now suddenly, we’re here. A new website!!! Why didn’t we re-do our site three years ago? Ultimately, too time consuming, too many options to choose from and too much money. Apparently, fate meant us to wait because when it all did click into place this time, the team we had assembled dramatically lessened each of these pressure points. Overall, it was not as painful a process as I had been dreading. Yeah!
As it turns out, I feel there ended up being some serendipity by waiting. Waiting gave us further opportunity to grow who we are and what we have learned. Waiting gave us the space to test our model and witness early outcomes. Waiting gave us the confidence to pull the trigger and just do it! And it gave us the confidence to realize that the time had truly come, because even more so than our site being embarrassingly retro, it is ultimately a matter of words. And how we use them.
Girls Education Collaborative (GEC) will have its eighth birthday two months from now. The past 96 months have been anything but static, and yet ‘our words’ were somewhat frozen from what we penned at the beginning. Sure, there have been some tweaks here and there but the process of really pausing and deeply evaluating how we talk about what we do, why we do, and how we do it, was overdue.
Our core messaging wasn’t necessarily conveying our intentions. As well, and this is really important too, the environment/climate/landscape within which we operate has changed since we began. Let’s start there.
When the pre-GEC ‘thinking group’ first coalesced, there was no ‘movement’ around global girls education. Most people (including myself just a few years earlier) didn’t even know there was an issue worth discussing, and certainly didn’t know the extent of the situation: millions of girls around the world barred from school because of their gender. Today, nine years later, the climate is different – there is a movement! And it’s in large part thanks to effective advocacy from people like Nicholas Kristoff and Sheryl WuDunn, Michelle Obama, films like Girl Rising, and global advocates with big microphones and eloquent messages such as Emma Watson.
Today, unlike 12 years ago when I personally entered this arena of global girls education, there is growing awareness of the problem GEC is trying to help solve: millions of girls are out of school around the world simply because they are a girl.
Another landscape shift that has probably helped bring a light to this global problem we are working to solve: #MeToo. Endemic violence against women. The re-affirmation of feminism. These issues that have once again reared their heads due to intolerable behavior, spark awakenings and insights and thankfully, change. I do feel that more and more people are connecting the dots then ever before. i.e “I see, this is more than creating educational opportunities for girls, this is really about ensuring that no girl is ever blocked from her inalienable right to an education, just because she is a girl. I get it now…”
What else is affecting the new words we are choosing to use? All that we have learned along the way. I could write REAMS about the lessons learned, mistakes made, revelations, authentic ah-ha moments, and more. The time had come to begin to reflect that hard-earned experience in the words we use.
Hammering out core messaging—the most essential, the not-to-be missed—is really hard work (at least for me!). It’s writing what you think is the same message 25 different ways and then posting it on a shared doc and letting everyone else re-write it 25 more and then trying to figure out which sets of words are the breakthroughs! It’s sending some of that copy off to one’s tribe of mentors to discover whether or not you’ve made the goal, or it’s back to google docs. Despite the frustration of the process, it’s an invaluable one as the words we use are the words you read and if we’ve done our work well, you’ll understand the problem we are trying to solve and how, and perhaps even join us in our quest.
I hope you find within our new site words and imagery that tell a story in a way that is simple, clear and compelling. We hope that our new site engages and inspires you. We hope you get a sense of our values, character and aspirations. We hope you’ll join us.