Empowering the Next Generation Through Mentorship

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Hello! My name is Taylor McKenzie and I am a senior at Sacred Hearts Academy. I am also a member of the Girls Got Grit (GGG) mentorship program, which connects students at Sacred Hearts Academy to mentorships with female leaders in the community. Through GGG, I had the opportunity to learn at the YWCA during an eight-week mentorship. 

In history class, we discussed inequality like it was a thing of the past that we are not still dealing with today. This is not true. An example of current inequality is who is being incarcerated in Hawai‘i. In 2013, 44 percent of female prisoners were Native Hawaiians, despite only accounting for 19.8 percent of the population. This demonstrates that Native Hawaiians are disproportionately affected by the justice system. Not only is our society suffering from inequality, more often than not, the people who are being hit the hardest are women. Female incarceration rates have been a growing issue in Hawaiʻi for some time. The majority of imprisoned women are not only Native Hawaiian, they are also mothers. In 2008, the Department of Human Services found that 85 percent of incarcerated women in Hawaiʻi have children. This is 10 percentage points higher than the nationwide average. 

The YWCA is one of the organizations that is working to put an end to the inequality in Hawaiʻi and around the world. In our community, they are a tremendous support in helping previously incarcerated women re-enter the community and reconnect with their families. Through my mentorship at the YWCA, I reconnected with my dream to become a journalist who uses words to make a difference. I plan to continue writing about the issues that women face in the world and support the YWCA in their mission to solve these problems.