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Founder and CEO of GirlBoss, Alexia Hilbertidou. Photo/ Supplied.


‘Change the world': GirlBoss CEO says teens to lead gender equity revolution

Alexia Hilbertidou shares her experience in empowering and mobilising wāhine across the motu, and why she believes that young Pacific people will shake up the world.

The founder of GirlBoss, an organisation aiming to empower wāhine and bridge gender gaps, says she backs and believes that teenage Pasifika will shake up the world.

Founded in 2015 by Alexia Hilbertidou and at a time she said the engineering, digital tech spaces and advanced physics sectors were experiencing a shortage of wāhine, GirlBoss has manifested into a nationwide network of more than 17,500 high school-aged members.

The group has also run programmes in over 100 schools across Aotearoa, Australia and the Cook Islands.

Speaking to William Terite on Pacific Mornings, Hilbertidou said she has "complete faith" in young women, especially Pasifika women, who choose to pursue success.

"I've seen incredible examples of young women who turn up to our events, our workshops with incredible enthusiasm, and I can't wait to see the difference that they'll go out there and make.”

After speaking at over 100 high schools in New Zealand, Hilbertidou said she saw the importance of leaning more into her Sāmoan heritage because many young Pasifika women she met had expressed how meaningful it was to hear from her.

"I think that can be powerful, to be representation, and to try and be a role model to other Pasifika young people out there."

Watch the full interview via 531pi FB page below:

Embracing and accepting the spectrum of Pacific peoples
Some of GirlBoss programmes are specifically for Pasifika women, helping them in their careers and navigating the business sector, Hilbertidou said.

She added that it was important to encourage young Pasifika women to jump on the bandwagon, irrespective of their progress in their Pasifika cultural journey.

She said young Pasifika women taking part in their programme, who didn’t feel as connected to their culture, would be embraced and accepted at GirlBoss.

"That was beautiful to see and was quite healing for some of the Pasifika young women involved. That's something I envision for all of our Pasifika people. We are all on our different journeys, but we are all one.

"It's important that we embrace and accept all of our Pasifika people and our cultural identities."

Hilbertidou's team launched the GirlBoss Awards recently with over $20,000 in prizes, which a person could nominate themselves or nominate another for.

GirlBoss is also running a school holiday programme for 400 young women passionate about technology.

"It's a 10-day intensive school holiday programme, and I know that these young women are going to emerge from that confident and ready to take on the tech sector which is really exciting," Hilbertidou said.

"We are passionate about rolling and scaling up, encouraging more young women into tech fields and to opportunities within the STEM sector."

‘To better serve our families’: Pushing Pasifika to pursue audacious ambition
Over the last nine years of annual growth for Girlboss, Hilbertidou has garnered "complete faith" in young women, especially Pasifika, who choose to pursue success.

She said the World Economic Forum predicted full gender equity would be reached within 135 years, and as a Gen Z member, she believed in change now rather than later.

"So, I'm excited for us to be the generation to reach full gender equity once and for all because we do not have years to wait.

"To all the Pasifika young women, if you have a passion, a business you want to start, or a social project, realise that you can start now. You don't need to wait for permission from others, you can grant that permission to yourself.

"Lean into your most audacious goals. It's so important that we are unapologetically ambitious because when we live to our highest potential, that allows us to better serve our families and our communities.

"I envision a future where our Pasifika young women are enabled to go out there and lead and change the world."