Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., encouraged a room full of Girl Scouts to be confident in themselves at her first West Virginia Girls Rise Up event in Charleston on Monday. 

“I’ve talked to girls all over the state about how I think it’s important that we have more girls leading,” Capito said. “It’s important that we have more women’s voices at the highest level, whether you’re in the state, federal, in the legal profession. We are underrepresented.” 

In 2015, after she became the first female senator from West Virginia, Capito launched her WV Girls Rise Up program to empower young women through education, physical fitness and self-confidence. 

“We really just want the girls to know that, if they push through the fear, they’ll end up so much stronger on the other side, and you don’t know what you can accomplish if you don’t push to get there,” said Nikki Haley, former U.S. ambassador to the U.N. and a speaker at the event. 

Capito and Haley explained to the girls during the event at the Girls Scouts of Black Diamond Council headquarters, in Charleston, that it’s important to focus on education, embrace who they are and trust their gut when it comes to making difficult decisions. 

“I think it’s important to get more girls in public service,” Capito said. “You could be a governor. You could be a mayor. You could be head of the PTA. You could be a Girl Scout leader. Somebody where you’re giving back to your community to help.” 

Toward the end of the event, Capito had the girls participate in an exercise where they wrote down one thing they could do to improve on their education, physical fitness or self-confidence. 

One girl shared that she wanted to teach her brother how to talk, and another girl shared her goal to run more. 

“There’s a lot of smart, talented girls that want to learn how to talk in front of adults, that want to learn how to talk and do public speaking and I think today we got to really start doing it,” Haley said. 

“Being able to stand up for yourself, to have confidence, to like yourself, to be able to express yourself and keep yourself healthy [is important],” Capito said.