Girls State: These Gen-Z women ran the world for a week. Here's what happened

“I’d be like, ‘I’m so tired of this, I know that they’re not listening to me because of my race. I know, they’re disregarding everything that I’m saying,” she recalls, adding that it was “annoying to have to be the representative for my community when I shouldn’t have to be”. But the support system she formed at Girls State and the one she had back home helped her pull through.

“When you walk in a room and people don’t want to hear it, you just want to say I’ve gone through [this] my entire life,” she says, adding that the difficulties she went through definitely motivated her. “At the end of the day, them having whatever bias they have towards me racially doesn’t change from the fact that I’m going to do what I want to do.

“It’s just a part of day to day life as being a Black person,” she adds, describing the ways in which she learned from her experiences.

“In the long run, it was helpful because it taught me that even if somebody doesn’t agree with you, there’s still a perspective to understand – there’s still a perspective to learn.”

While the girls give varying accounts on how Girls State could be improved as a project – through more funding, encouragement for young women to navigate the more difficult political conversations or less focus on dress code – Faith, Emily and Tochi are all clear that participating has changed their lives for the better.

After being elected as Attorney General at Girls State, Tochi has changed her career path from plans to pursue private law to becoming a campaign manager after law school. “I still want to be in politics without being in the forefront of it,” she explains. Emily won the prestigious Missouri Girls State Citizen Leadership Scholarship, setting her up to study at university, and Faith is interning at the Missouri Capitol for a female representative.

Girls State was a huge part of these moves and opportunities. “I don’t know if I would have had the confidence to intern at the Missouri Capitol on these legislative policies if it hadn’t been for Girls State,” Faith says. “It was a great confidence boost and also put politics at an attainable level.”

So despite the apparent shortcomings, inequalities and tensions, projects like Girls State really can empower young women, encouraging them to step into challenging spaces and reminding them that politics is their realm as well.

Girls State is available to watch now on Apple TV+.


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