“To help galvanize worldwide enthusiasm for goals to better girls’ lives, providing an opportunity for them to show leadership and reach their full potential.”
In honor of the holiday, leaders across the globe will talk about the importance of gender equality and equal access to education, health care and other basic rights that somehow have eluded a shocking number of the world’s young women. Consider these grim facts:
- Only 30% of girls in the world are enrolled in secondary school.
- One in seven girls in developing countries is married off before turning 15.
- In the US more than half (54%) of all rapes of females happen before age 18.
- More than half (54%) of 3rd-5th grade girls worry about their appearance and 37% worry about their weight.
- Women in the US earn only 77% of what men earn; at the current rate of improvement, it will take 45 years for women and men to be compensated equally.
- Sexualization of girls continues to be a broad and increasingly harmful issue in the US.
Sadly, we also have a terrifying example of just how horrible conditions for girls are in parts of the world as we wait for news about Malala Yousufzai, a 14 year old girl who was shot in the head by the Taliban on Tuesday for trying to advocate for the education of girls. This brave girl, who would covertly attend school and maintain a dairy on a BBC website, and who became the voice of young women in the region is now currently fighting for her life in a military hospital.
Whether you are a woman or a mother matters not; this is a tragic human issue impacting people in various ways and various degrees all over the world, and holding all of us back from achieving greatness.
While this is certainly a grim post, the silver lining is solid – today is the beginning of the next wave of the movement. The holiday will shine a light on these issues and encourage people to stand up for change.
Here are some things you can do as a parent to observe the holiday:
Teach your daughters to value themselves for who they are, rather than how they look. Teach your sons to value girls as friends, sisters, and girlfriends, rather than as sexual objects. Get involved in the media that your children are consuming. Ask questions and initiate conversations about the way that women are portrayed. The American Psychological Association has a good summary of things that parents can do, and a separate list of things that girls can do to challenge stereotypes.
Don’t fall victim to gender bias yourself! The way we think about men, women, boys and girls has been ingrained in our heads for our whole lives. We may not even realize when we’re reinforcing stereotypes. Keep this in mind and do your best to avoid falling into preconceived notions of what is ‘for girls’ and what is ‘for boys.’ One of the most obvious places that this type of stereotyping happens is in the aisles of clothing and toy stores. We’ve partnered with a new site called Toward the Stars whose mission is to counter gender stereotypes through a curated selection of children’s products that counter stereotypes. We encourage you to check them out, but wherever you shop, don’t let gender-based merchandising impact your purchasing decisions and be sure to voice your concerns to retailers to encourage them to make positive changes.
Get involved! As we’ve seen, this problem is not going to fix itself and is not disappearing on its own. Visit DayOfTheGirl.org for ideas on how you, and your children, can take action.
What are some ways you are helping teach your children about gender equality?
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