11 October is International Day of the Girl Child, a day when we can celebrate incredible girls of all ages, all races, all shapes and sizes, all across the world.
There are so many amazing girls to look up to out there! Let’s be honest- who doesn't love Tavi Gevinson
(creator of Rookie
), Amandla Stenberg
(actress and activist extraordinaire), or Malala Yousafzai
(youngest ever Nobel Peace Prize laureate).
We figure that with 3,633,371,592 girls in the world, we should and can have a massive positive impact globally, which is pretty rad don’t you think?!
The United Nations wants the world to work together over the next fifteen years on 17 goals - also known as Sustainable Development Goals
(SDG). If we smash these goals we could end poverty, protect the planet, and make sure equality doesn't slip off the edge of a cliff. Because let’s face it, when those things are sorted the world will be a way better place to live in.
We asked over 90 girls from Girl Guides aged from 8 to 16 which of the SDG’s were important to them, and their top three were gender inequality, quality education and living in peace. And because all girls are awesome we thought we’d share some of their thoughts (and ours) on why it all matters.
“Girls should have a say in life and girls should be treated with respect just the same as boys because everyone should have equal rights in the world.”
When we spoke to Girl Guides, they told us that girls and boys should be treated the same way and should have the same opportunities and unfortunately this isn’t happening. They also spoke about girls being judged because of the colour of their skin, their size and that some attitudes towards girls made them feel stereotyped and unable to take part in some activities. These judgements and stereotypes cut girls off from opportunities they wanted to take part in, which is denying girls the right to feel confident. This is not and never will be okay.
“Gender equality is important to me because I’ve seen people be bullied on social media who were scored for their gender and sexuality.”
It’s not just adults, men and boys who are guilty of putting girls down - girls are doing it too.
Girl hate. Hands up if you’re guilty! I mean who hasn't seen another girl your age on TV and thought hey, she’s terrible or that you could be doing a better job than her. These comments seem harmless, but are girls becoming their own worst enemies?
We're 99.99% sure that everyone has judged another person at some point in their lives. It’s everywhere! Let’s be real, if there wasn't any cattiness on The Bachelor it wouldn't be any fun to watch. Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, sounding familiar?
Girl hate isn't just tearing one another down, it’s making girls not want to put themselves out there for fear of judgement. We are missing out on inspiring girls doing amazing things just because we’re all so busy judging one another.
“Everyone should have a good education to get a good job and have a good life.”
There shouldn’t be any girl from any corner of the world who doesn't feel safe to learn, to speak out, and reach their full potential by getting their minds and hands on some quality education
One girl told us: “Our brains hold this planet’s future”
. This is totally true, so if you think about it, when you deny a girl an education you are holding back the planet - not the smartest move.
“Girls don’t want to give their answer because they’re scared of how the boys are going to respond to it. Usually, I’m scared to give an answer because of what they’re going to say.”
In a world where women strive for gender equality and equal access to education, it blew our minds to think that young girls in schools across Australia felt scared to put their hands up in class because they were afraid of boys’ reactions. We need girls to feel empowered to have a voice in the classroom, at home, in the community, wherever they are.
Girls, don’t you think that guys have been thought of as more important for too long now? In case you haven't noticed, this is the 21st century, so let’s bring those boys up to speed! Speak up! What you have to say matters.
Ending violence and living in peace
I guess we thought this would not make the list as it seems more relevant to people who live in war zones, but we soon learnt that violence
at home, at school, and in communities is a big concern for a lot of girls. Here’s some of the powerful things girls had to say.
“Peace and justice [is important] because domestic violence is not on.”
“[Barriers to girls being change-makers include] sexual and racial abuse, domestic violence, unfair treatment, discrimination, peer pressure.”
“It is not okay to let sexual assault and abuse happen.”
Feeling unsafe gets in the way and spills out into other parts of your life. Girls need to have safe places and people around them who will support them to achieve their hopes and dreams. We need to work towards ending all forms of abuse, discrimination and bullying because we know that girls are resilient, smart, and strong, and have loads to offer to our communities and our world!
If we want girls to feel safe in the community, the first step is to make sure local, state and federal leaders in Australia recognise that there is a problem. From there we can educate people through school and outside programs on the effects of violence in the community.
After all that info our brains were stretched (in a good way) and we asked what they would like leaders to know and do to make things better for girls:
- “I wish they knew that if they made programs or initiatives easily accessible for teens, then we might take action.”
- “We should have a big part on deciding what happens in the world, city and country.”
- “I would like to change the number of girls in the government.”
- “I would like to make more places in my community for women and girls to feel safe, especially if they are victims of domestic violence.”
- “Celebrate women’s achievements like women’s sports in Australia. There are no girl versions of the Sydney Swans.”
- “Women aren’t getting enough attention: we need a female to talk about female issues”
- “Girls are not just make-up wearing, pretty people. We are all different!”
- “We matter. There’s more than you think you know. I have a story and that story matters”
In fifteen years we’ll be in our early 30’s (old).
We want to see a world where women aren’t fighting for their rights any more. We want to see a world where women are included in everything and where discrimination no longer exists. Women have been fighting for their rights for long enough. We hope to see a world where women are in positions of leadership.
We want to live in a world where girls are treated as equals, can get an education, and where every girl feels safe and respected.
- say it loud and proud, in big and small ways because we can, and we will change the world.
Special thanks to Girl Guides NSW & ACT for letting us listen to 90 of your wonderful young members.