Support from a good mentor gives young women an opportunity to reflect on their skills, so that they can overcome their fears and make the most of their talents and capacities.
Young women have an important role to play in the creation of a fairer and more just society – from creating a more welcoming society to building more equitable structures. However, young women face many challenges and barriers to embarking on a leadership path in their careers. Support from a mentor can help young women overcome these barriers, reflect on their leadership skills, grow their network and boost their confidence. That’s why mentoring is a central aspect of Red:GLOW. The project addresses the need of each young woman through one-to-one mentoring.
Reflecting on my own experiences, as a young woman and as a second-generation immigrant, my mentors (an art teacher during secondary school and my older sister) have had a huge impact on my life. Navigating the education system in England, such as studying for my GCSE’s and A-Levels, applying to university and applying for student finance, was daunting and unfamiliar.
Unlike my friends whose own parents went through the same education system, I was unable to ask mine for advice and guidance through this process. In moments like this, informal mentoring from my teacher and sister guided me through this unfamiliar territory. Their guidance not only helped me get through the process of going to university, but they also supported me in decisions I made for future career and educational aspirations.
Their guidance and encouragement allowed me to learn more about myself and grow as an individual. Female mentors, in particular, have allowed me to feel like I was in a protected space- my mentors were able to empathize with my life experiences. My experience of mentoring was informal. However, whether the relationship is formal or informal, mentoring has the same objective: to help someone realise their potential, develop their skills and become the person they want to be.
Author: Anjana Ahilan, Red:GLOW volunteer.