For the second time, the state of Louisiana has ranked near the bottom of Girl Scouts of the USA’s The State of Girls, an omnibus report on the overall well-being of girls in the United States. Compiled and released by GSUSA’s Girl Scout Research Institute (GSRI) last month, the third edition of The State of Girls focuses on national- and state-level trends across key indicators affecting girls’ overall well-being. Louisiana ranked 48th, a decrease from 45th in the last GSRI report published in 2014. The index crunches numbers for five indicators of girls' well-being: physical health and safety, economic well-being, education, emotional health, and extracurricular and out-of-school activities.
Findings suggest that, regardless of an increase in high school graduation rates, economic conditions affecting girls in the United States have not fully recovered from the recession that began in late 2007, and in fact have worsened, with more girls living in poverty and low-income households today than 10 years ago. These conditions are leading to increased emotional and physical distress among girls, with obesity, drug use, and low self-esteem on the rise.
The local Girl Scout council, Girl Scouts Louisiana East, strives to promote a healthy and thriving environment for all girls in its 23-parish jurisdiction of southeast Louisiana. While many of its programs are offered in a volunteer-led troop setting, outreach programs such as Girl Scouts Beyond Bars exist to help girls and their incarcerated mothers in the Orleans and East Baton Rouge parish prisons, with funding from Entergy and the Huey and Angelina Wilson Foundation. Other after-school programs for girls from low-income families in both the New Orleans and Baton Rouge area are also being implemented, thanks to funding from the Joe W. and Dorothy Dorsett Brown Foundation, Entergy, and the RosaMary Foundation.
Knowing that girls in lower socioeconomic-status homes are primed to make up the bulk of American girls, Girl Scouts nationwide are helping bolster their educational achievement—and encouraging all Americans to take a more active role in girls’ welfare. Last fall Girls Scouts Louisiana East launched its Man Enough to Be a Girl Scout campaign, designed to involve more fathers, father figures, and business leaders in the lives of all girls, especially Girl Scouts.
“Giving girls the opportunity to achieve—no matter what obstacles they face—is what Girl Scouts is all about, and increasing the number of women in leadership positions is not a women’s issue; it’s an issue that matters to anyone who cares about the future of our nation and our world,” said Kathy Hannan, GSUSA’s national board president.
To read more about The State of Girls, visit http://www.girlscouts.org/en/about-girl-scouts/research/state-of-girls.html.