After changing the way people think about feminine hygiene products, why not reimagine the way girls enter adulthood?

SVI Alumni Madeleine Shaw plans to do just that with G Day for Girls, a day of celebration and empowerment for girl’s ages 10 to 12 that is launching on April 28th 2014 in Vancouver, Canada. Leave it to a woman who helped revolutionize menstrual products to be so acutely aware of the lack of inspiration and mentorship around the entry into womanhood.

Speaking with Madeleine Shaw, co-founder (along with her longtime business partner and SVI alum Suzanne Siemens) of Lunapads and Pads4Girls, she recalls her own anti-climatic coming of age well:

“I was very excited about the idea of becoming an adult woman, and very curious about it… but then I hit puberty and nothing happened. There was no celebration or recognition that there was something cool and special happening to me.”

This young memory is the spark for what may now well become a legacy for Madeleine and an inspiration for many young girls sorely in need of diverse role models, self-esteem and genuine support as they move into this next phase of life. This “tween” age group is bombarded with media and social pressures on how to act and look, but as Madeleine points out, girls are rarely celebrated outside of their families or exposed to alternative role models, making the transition perhaps more scary than exciting.

“Girls at this age are heading into a powerful culture of social comparison and competition.

Madeleine remembers local tragedies where young girls have been exploited and bullied:

“They say that it takes a village to raise a child, however that’s not always a reality in an urban context. As a parent, you can offer your children all the love in the world, however they need more than that that to equip them for the future. Events like G Day are a community, village-like container where girls are honoured and supported. It’s like a room full of people all saying to you at the same time, we care about you, we’ve got your back.”

At G Day, 250 girls will have the opportunity to hear from 10 prominent speakers and artists from a diverse array of backgrounds, and participate in workshops including dance, leadership and sharing with peers – an idea Madeleine credits to her own SVI and SCI community:

“Creative leadership and supportive role-modeling are an integral part of the SVI and SCI cultures, because we’re peer-mentoring one another. It’s also about community, knowing that there is support out there for you. With G Day it’s about offering a diverse array of role models for the girls to feel inspired by, and in turn connect with the truest versions of themselves.”

Madeleine herself is a role model, though perhaps too modest to admit it. But her commitment to the SVI and SVI Women (she is a co-Presenter again in 2014) communities are testament, as well as her sound advice for young women when prompted: “Cultivate resilience and accept yourself. Treasure yourself [and] to cultivate sisterhood and community.”

EVENT INFORMATION: G Day for Girls –> April 28, 2014, Vancouver, BC