Austin area girls empowered by ‘Believe It and Be It’ message

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We Are Girls Conference 2019. (KXAN Photo: Ed Zavala)

AUSTIN (KXAN) — The Girls Empowerment Network drew thousands of girls to Austin for their conference on Saturday. For those in attendance, the message was simple.

3rd grader Zoe Hunt speaks to KXAN Photojournalist Ed Zavala. (KXAN Photo: Ed Zavala)

“I am a girl and my voice matters,” 3rd grader Zoe Hunt told KXAN Photojournalist Ed Zavala. It was exactly the message organizers were trying to send.

“We know that girls when they start learning about self efficacy, when they start learning those skills at a young age, they use that when they’re older,” said Claudia Arellano, the Program Engagement Manager for Girls Empowerment Network.

It was the 12th annual conference the organization has hosted, this time with a theme of “Believe It and Be It.” They kept attendees busy with workshops about body image, creativity, entrepreneurship, bullying and healthy relationships. Featured speakers included Aisha Thomas from San Antonio and April Bowman from Dallas.

Sign posted on the wall at the conference. (KXAN Photo: Ed Zavala)

“My favorite part about my job is being able to say that my professional passion relates to my personal passion so the fact that it’s all about being a woman and feeling empowered makes me feel great when girl feels empowered,” Arellano explained.

Hunt, who went to the conference with two of her friends, seemed to walk away with that valuable message. At only 9-years-old, she described what empowerment meant for her.

“It means if I say something, it still matters,” she said. “Even if I am a girl, it still matters.”

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