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Empowering Adolescent Girls: A call to address regressive social/gender norms

Empowering Adolescent Girls: A call to address regressive social/gender norms


AI generated image by Sushmita Mukherjee

In a world that is constantly evolving, the importance of empowering girls to achieve their ambitions cannot be overstated. The future of our planet depends on the full and equal participation of women and girls in all aspects of society. Gender equality is not just a women’s issue; it is a global issue that affects us all.

On the International Girl Child Day on 11th October 2023, this article is to remind us of the huge potential girls hold and they await the support and encouragement globally to unleash their power and exercise their rights with voice and choice. This article calls for continued investment for girls.

By investing in the dreams and aspirations of girls and providing them with the support they need, we can create a more equitable and prosperous world for everyone.

Challenging Gender Norms
One of the first steps in supporting girls to achieve their ambitions is challenging regressive gender norms and thus the deep-rooted gender inequalities in our societies. These norms have limited the potential of girls for generations, relegating them to roles that society deems appropriate based on their gender. It’s time to break free from these constraints and allow girls to dream big, aspire to any career, and pursue their passions without fear of judgment or discrimination. Encourage the bonding between mother and daughter to change the narrative of transmission of norms and beliefs. Let the mother handover a fresh socio-ecosystem to her daughter which gives her all required motivation towards a gender egalitarian world.

Education as the Foundation
Education is the cornerstone of empowering girls to reach their goals. Sadly, millions of girls worldwide are still denied access to quality education due to various barriers, including poverty, cultural norms, and discrimination. To achieve gender equality, we must prioritize education for all girls and remove the obstacles that prevent them from accessing it. Education is not just about reading textbooks and passing exams, it’s about providing opportunities to learn and unlearn, opportunities to observe, ask, experiment, analyse and innovate.

By investing in girls’ education, we not only empower them with knowledge and skills but also provide them with the confidence to pursue their dreams. When girls are educated, they are more likely to delay marriage, have healthier families, and contribute to their communities’ development and national economies.

Supporting STEM Education
In the 21st century, STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) fields offer numerous opportunities for innovation and growth. However, there is still a significant gender gap in STEM professions. To boost gender equality, we must encourage and support girls’ interest in STEM subjects from an early age.

This can be achieved through age and grade appropriate counselling & mentorship programs, scholarships, and initiatives that provide hands-on experiences in STEM fields. When girls have the opportunity to explore their interests in STEM, they can become the innovators and leaders of the future, helping to address some of the world’s most pressing challenges.

Promoting Leadership and Representation
Another critical aspect of empowering girls is promoting their leadership skills and ensuring their representation in decision-making processes. When girls see strong female role models in positions of power, they are more likely to believe in their own capabilities and ambitions.

Organizations and governments can play a pivotal role in this by implementing policies that promote gender diversity in leadership roles and fostering a culture of inclusivity and equality.

Global Collaboration for Change
Empowering girls to achieve their ambitions and boosting gender equality is not the responsibility of one nation or organization alone. It requires a global commitment to collaboration and support. By working together, we can create a ripple effect that spans across borders and cultures.

The world’s progress depends on the full and equal participation of girls and women in all aspects of society. To achieve this, we must invest in girls’ education, challenge gender norms, promote STEM opportunities, and ensure their representation in leadership positions. Empowering girls to achieve their ambitions is not just a moral imperative; it’s a path to a brighter and more equitable future for us all.

It’s time for individuals, communities, and nations to come together and commit to supporting girls in their pursuit of their dreams. By doing so, we can build a world where every girl can reach her full potential, and where gender equality is no longer a distant goal but a living reality.

Author: Sushmita Mukherjee, Director – Gender and Adolescent Girls, PCI India

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