Girls United – Changing the Conversation
Most of the discussions involving young girls have a negative connotation. The general focus on this time in a young girl’s life is the hardships that they face.
This includes body image, self-esteem, sexuality, sexism, etc… But the focus is rarely on the strength and courage young girls have gained in order to overcome these issues.
Although these topics are important to address, they should not be the main discussion point for this demographic. Girls every day are successfully getting through this stage of life and growing up to be capable and compassionate women.
Bringing light to the negative issues in a young girl’s life is an important part of the empowering process. However, more importance lies in the building and maintenance of strength within these girls. The first step in increasing strength in young girls is building their assets. This includes social, human and sport skill. The next step in this is ensuring that these girls have appropriate resources. The third and last step of this process includes developing agency.
In building one’s assets, it is important to ensure that one has exposure to positive role models, peer groups, and a solid support system. Young girls will further benefit from mastering a particular skill as it will teach them discipline, concentration and competence.
In empowering young girls it is also essential to inform them on topics such as gender-based issues, sexual health, reproductive rights, economic empowerment and basic life skills. They should be given the tools needed in order to maintain their physical strength and fitness, mental/emotional health and self-confidence. It should be encouraged that they talk about these subjects freely and openly ask questions in order to become more informed.
There is a wide variety of resources that young girls should be aware of in order to reach an empowered state. These resources are broken into community resources and enabling environments. Community resources include centres that provide health and financial education. Enabling environments include safe and supportive environments in which they are able to expand their social network, form friendships and receive support and mentoring. A combination of the two is essential in order to enhance the wellness of a young girl. Girls should be taught that it is their basic right to have access to these resources, and should be encouraged to take advantage of them as needed.
Self-efficacy & Growth
Developing agency includes encouraging girls to act on their own interests. They should be exposed to an environment where they are taught goal-setting, teamwork and leadership skills. This will encourage self-efficacy and enhance one’s self-growth. Young girls should be encouraged to use their creativity and pursue their dreams regardless of society’s views. It is essential to promote these concepts in their every day lives in order to help them overcome the challenges they face growing up. If one gains enough confidence and strength through these various tools, then perhaps many of these challenges won’t even feel as if they are challenges.
Young girls should be taught to love themselves, to use their knowledge to better society, to know their basic human rights, to find support in others and to stand up for what they believe in. Putting them in a bubble of struggles can make them feel as if they are powerless, and cannot defeat the stigma that society has put on them. What young girls don’t need to be told the ways society is against them, but to be shown how they can transform society. Instead of bombarding them with a message implying that they are doomed from the beginning, empower them with a message saying that the world is in their hands, and they have the ability to change it.
To that end, The elbowroom is proud to announce the launch of a new course to help our daughters. We plan to empower young women with self love, self-esteem, body confidence, a healthy view of sexuality and the importance of consent. Girls United starts Saturday September 10th.