GIRLS POWER: if you can think it, you can do it!
The gender gap and the underestimation of women are social phenomena that still affect many countries. In many societies, men's work is more recognized than women's: Men are paid more than women, even when they do the same work, and women are still assumed to be unable to do certain jobs. For these reasons, many girls and women around the world have gathered their ideas to create associations to break these stereotypes and give young girls a voice. Let us explore them:
InspirinGirls is an international project that was launched in 2016 and now includes 26 countries around the world. The idea behind this project is to encourage girls to follow their ambitions, free from gender stereotypes. This organization is dedicated to raising the ambitions of young girls around the world by connecting them with female role models. Who are these role models? Role models are women you can look to for guidance, because the determination with which they achieved their goals can motivate young girls to become what they want; to put no limits on defining their path and to think big about their future.
According to some studies, children begin to classify occupations by gender as early as age 6, and by age 12, nearly half of girls aspire to gender role models. As we can imagine, this can have a huge impact on their decisions about their future education and careers. InspirinGirls aims to teach young girls that they are free to decide what they want to do with their lives, and that the best way to do this is to have examples of women who have followed their passions despite being considered masculine. InspirinGirls Italia has also decided to launch a campaign with the hashtag #nonèdamaschio (not just for men), which aims to break gender stereotypes that some professions are only for men and others are only for women. Four extraordinary women who tell girls how they have defeated gender stereotypes in their professions: the first female pilot of the Italian airline Alitalia, a national team soccer player, an environmental engineer with a passion for mathematics, a motocross world champion. Women who successfully pursue professions traditionally considered "for men". They are role models and points of reference for girls of new generations, showing that it is possible to overcome gender bias and pursue careers in fields still denied to women. The challenge is being spread through social media, where young people are sharing a video showing that there is no passion "for men" or passion "for women", and they are inviting other girls to share their stories. It is necessary to bring about a great cultural and social change that will overcome the gender gap, and they want to put into action all the necessary measures, starting with telling children that they can build their future without standard models, we need to promote less stereotypical courses of study, such as those in scientific fields or STEM. This is important to achieve an equal and sustainable future. The result of this campaign has been successful. Research has shown that attending Inspiring Girl sessions has increased girls' confidence and raised their expectations of success.
Girls Not Bride
Girls Not Bride was launched in 2011 by The Elders, a group of global leaders working together to promote peace and fight for human rights. In 2013, Girls Not Bride became an independent charity and now includes more than 1,500 civil society organizations from over 100 countries. The idea is to stop the phenomenon of child marriage, which still affects many societies, so that girls and women can have the same status as boys and men and reach their full potential in all aspects of their lives. This organization knows the importance of working together. Their goals are to prevent child marriage, support girls who are already married, defend girls' right to education, health and the chance to fulfill their potential, and implement all necessary measures to end child marriage. Member organizations are located in Africa, Asia, Europe, the Americas and the Middle East and are funded by government grants and foundations.
Girls Not Bride has developed a Theory of Change to address the problem of child marriage. The Theory of Change consists of four pillars:
Empowering girls: This includes programs that provide girls with education, skills, information, and a safe space where they can connect with peers and support each other.
Mobilizing families and communities. This includes addressing the values and traditions within all groups that influence the decision to marry young girls and facilitate child marriage.
Provide services to both married and unmarried girls, including support that enables girls to go to school and receive an education.
Establish and implement laws and policies. The government plays a fundamental role and the organization is trying to persuade the government to develop strong laws and policies such as a minimum age for marriage.
Girls Rock Camp
Girls Rock Camp is a non-profit, volunteer and donation based organization whose mission is to promote the emancipation of girls through music. The organization has been active since 2013 and is based in Brazil. Since 2013, it has hosted thousands of young girls from different parts of the country. The team consists of 85 volunteers who strongly believe in the power of music, art and social movements. They share their time with these girls and teach them the importance of gender equality for a better and just society. Girls Rock Camp gathers young girls and teaches them how to play instruments so they can form a rock band with other peers write a song and exhibit it at the end of the camp. The idea is to teach the girls that they can cultivate their passions without boundaries.
The Asia Foundation
The Asia Foundation is a non-profit international organization whose mission is to improve lives throughout Asia. The Foundation operates throughout the region and has five goals: strengthen governance, empower women, expand economic opportunity, improve environmental resilience, and promote international cooperation. The Asia Foundation is headquartered in San Francisco but has a network of offices in 18 Asian countries and receives funds from various agencies, corporations and individuals. The foundation has a strong connection to gender equality issues. It aims to expand women's opportunities, strengthen their rights and promote women's political participation. The idea is that through education and training, women can acquire the necessary knowledge and skills to earn an income and even achieve better paying jobs. In terms of women's empowerment and security, The Asia Foundation works to eliminate norms that perpetuate gender-based violence and the exploitation of women and girls. It advocates with the government to strengthen laws and the legal system to improve access to justice. The Foundation also advocates combating human trafficking. The Foundation is also committed to empowering women to participate in political processes so that they can be active participants and members of political parties. The aim is to give women a voice to speak about their rights. To achieve gender equality, the foundation prepares projects and institutional practices.
Women's Crises Care International
Women's Crises Care International is the first program in the entire Middle East to focus exclusively on addressing crises caused by rape and domestic violence. This program works around the clock with trained volunteers to provide immediate emotional, informational, and logistical support to women who denounce domestic or sexual violence in the Kingdom of Bahrain, where the program is located. The volunteers offer their support by accompanying victims to police stations, shelters and hospitals, as well as providing them with food, clothing and transportation. The program consists of five staff members and more than 100 women volunteers who support feminist ideals and aim to tear down the cultural and ideological barriers that shape Islam and Arab society.
These few examples show that women no longer accept being undervalued and deserve to be valued as much as men. Fortunately, there are more and more associations around the world that advocate for this issue, and women are being empowered.
Written by Valeria Unich