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12 months traveling the world, researching the challenges girls face and exploring ways we might further empower girls through design


who are you?

Katie Kirsch—a designer, non-profit founder, and activist based in CA and focused on designing ways to empower young women and girls.

What are you doing?

Taking a “gap year” to research the issues girls face, volunteer, and discover ways we might further empower girls through design.

What’s the latest?

Chatting with non-profits in India, Uganda, South Africa, the Philippines, and the US to explore ways we might collaborate next year.

how can i get involved?

in a nutshell:

Traveling the world for 12 months to listen & learn about the challenges girls face, and explore ways we might further empower girls through design.

Like a Masters in Design for Girls Empowerment, with a concentration in sexual health education, contraception, periods, and sex trafficking.


From January to December 2020, I’m excited to:

  • Listen and learn from extraordinary people from highly diverse backgrounds who bring a unique perspective to how we might empower girls.

  • Collaborate with inspiring non-profits on design projects and sprints to do tangible, hands-on work that moves the needle.

  • Immerse in diverse communities and cultures where the rules, rituals, and experiences of girls might look and feel radically different—such as in India, Africa, and the Philippines.

  • Attend conferences, events, and other gatherings to engage in pressing topics, new research, and key issues in this space.

  • Conduct in-depth research into the challenges that girls face globally through books, documentaries, podcasts, and other media.

  • Blog about everything that I’m learning, observing, and doing to share this journey with you. Celebrate and shine a light on the incredible work that so many people and organizations are already doing to impact girls. Amplify new voices and capture untold stories. #2020forgirls


At the end of the year, I might create a pop-up exhibit, launch an event series, publish a book, or do something totally different to share the journey. My hope is to find a creative way to make the year’s learnings actionable so that we all might have new tools, design methods, and ideas for how we might continue to impact girls together.