A few way to inspire your little one to take on the world.
By Anna Gilchrist | Oct 11, 2021
Let's be honest: being a girl in this world can be tough. Around the world, girls are still facing gender inequality, with challenges including the lack of or prohibited access to education, scarce resources for clean menstrual hygiene, and the possibility of becoming a victim of child marriage, amongst others.
On International Day of the Girl, while it is a day of celebration, it is important we acknowledge the challenges girls face every day and find ways to reduce the gap of gender inequality for girls and women.
Below are a few ways we can support our girls develop to be confident and resilient adults:
1. Introduce them to female barrier breakers throughout history and modern day.
Girls can learn about female-identifying people that are forces of change in the past and present by giving them books to read about diverse women leaders, especially those they will unlikely hear of. Remember, representation matters, so please be intentional when deciding which books to give to your little one, ensuring they represent women who come from various ethnic backgrounds and abilities.
2. Encourage them to not be afraid to speak their mind, and that they are listened to.
As girls, we are often taught to not talk too much, ruffle too many feathers, or God forbid, be too opinionated. We may spend much of our adult lives unlearning these behaviors in order to be more successful in our careers and relationships. That's why it is important to teach girls early on to not be apologetic about their words, as long as she is respectful, and to demand to be heard, not interrupted or talked over. This will be a useful skill she will likely need for her adult relationships - including work, family, and love - so the earlier on she learns it, the better prepared she will be for her future endeavors.
3. Acknowledge and compliment her on anything other than her physical appearance.
Unfortunately, women are often initially judged on by their physical rather than their intellectual attributes, and it starts at a young age. To help your little one build a stronger self-esteem, let her know that she is more than her looks and has more to offer, like her creativity, ambition, and attention to detail... Be specific! Prepare her with the tools of resilience to use against a society that tends to objectify women and girls, like positive affirmations and taking a reprieve from social media.
4. Inspire her to get involved in competitive activities, and encourage her interest in STEM.
Taking part in a activity with others, especially a competitive one, not only help with her social development, but will also prepare her to compete in the real world. Whether it be for a high paying position, a business grant, or even to guarantee she receives equal pay, participating in a competition activity - like a sport, debate team, or science fair - will help her be more prepared.
This is especially true if she is interested in a career in STEM - Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics - where currently women only make up about 29% of the STEM workforce. It's a male dominated industry for sure, yet the number of women in the industry is growing, opening the doors for more girls to pursue their own STEM dreams.
It's also a good idea to inspire them by introducing them to women in STEM throughout history like Ada Lovelace, the first computer programmer, and Katherine Johnson, the mathematician that helped NASA execute the first landing on the moon!
It is essential that we ensure our girls have all the resources to be empowered in a patriarchal society. That way, they can have more confidence in their future and feel more ready for what they may encounter as they navigate the adult world.
Resources: Burnford, Joy. "Inspiring Girls: What Can We All Do to Help?" Forbes, 22 March 2019, https://www.forbes.com/sites/joyburnford/2019/03/22/inspiring-girls-what-can-we-all-do-to-help/?sh=1204787a3b72 "6 Little Things You Can Do to Inspire a Young Girl Today." Yahoo!, Yahoo!, https://www.yahoo.com/lifestyle/6-little-things-can-inspire-young-girl-today-174519056.html Glick, Hans. “9 Key Issues Affecting Girls and Women around the World.” Global Citizen, 4 June 2015, www.globalcitizen.org/en/content/9-key-issues-affecting-girls-and-women-around-the/.
Anna Gilchrist is a children's author, youth rights advocate, and founder of her company, Sandfish Publishing. She received her MFA in Childhood Studies at Swansea University in the UK and has published two books, both of which can be found on Amazon and her website. When she is not writing, she loves to spend her free time cooking gourmet meals, singing and dancing to 90's hits, and tending to her multiple plants in her New Jersey home.