Hmong Girls Leadership Training

By Amy Doeun

Hnub Tshiab: Hmong Women Achieving Together has been working for years to provide programming that fosters economic and social well being for Hmong Women. Now the organization has implemented a program specially designed for Hmong Girls age 12-18.

Gao Thor of Hnub Tshiab explained, “This is the first program of its kind that has been implemented. We recognize that we need a space that would foster Hmong girls’ awareness of the institutional, social, and cultural barriers that keep them away from achieving economic well-being. Through focus groups that included youth and service providers who work with young Hmong girls and personal interviews with Hmong girls, we were able to identify areas of need in leadership training for Hmong girls. We were able to create Hmong Girls Leadership Training (HGLT) through the focus groups, interviews, and components of our Hmong Women Leadership Institute.”

The program runs from January to May 2018. “We began recruiting back in October of 2017 through our Facebook page and online in order to reach a wider range of audience. They completed an online application that entailed a short essay of their interest for the program.”

The program is specially designed to meet the needs of young Hmong women. “In HGLT, we explore concepts such as culture, identities/intersectionalism, leadership, and sexuality all within a Hmong American cultural context.”

An important component is learning to be a giving person and helping others achieve. “They also have a philanthropy project where they will be having a fundraising event and creating a scholarship with the funds they collect to help a Hmong girl go to college.”

So far the program has received positive feedback. Thor said, “They’ve really enjoyed just being with Hmong girls their age to discuss and tackles issues they have been noticing and experiencing. We have attendance rate of 80% or higher for all meetings which shows that these girls want to use their Saturdays to join us.”

Pa Her, a junior at Johnson High School said of the program, “The program is awesome. I like the fact that I get to meet many Hmong girls not just from the St. Paul area, but also from other areas of Minnesota. Hearing other girls speak about their lives and experiences gave me a new outlook on society especially when I live and go to a school where the majority of people I see are Hmong. The workshops that we do also helps me learn more about myself as a person and my importance as a Hmong female in this modern day. It makes me think a lot about how I as a Hmong female can use my leadership skills to help others around me and the community.”