I have been thinking about how we can all make things better for girls and have come up with a few suggestions I’d like to see you all build upon:
1. READ. Get informed. A few of the books that inspired me in 2008 and that continue to challenge and feed my thinking include: “Perfect Girls, Starving Daughters” by Courtney Martin, “Adolescent Girls In Crisis”, by Martha Straus, “Faking It” by Women’s Forum Australia, ” Female Chauvinist Pigs, Women and the Rise of Raunch Culture” by Ariel Levy, and “Well and Good” by Richard Eckersley.
2. WRITE. The book that has really shaped me though has been my own. My manuscript is due into my publishers, Random House, in two weeks – what a journey writing this has been! Seth Godin (a business writer and entrepreneur) summed up the power of the writing process beautifully in the Herald a few weeks ago –
The book that will most change your life is the book you write. Write it as a blog, write it as a book you publish or write it as a private diary… The act of writing things down, of justifying your actions, of being cogent and clear and forthright – that’s how you change. It keeps you from lying to yourself all day long.”
3. SPEAK OUT – If you see advertisements that you think send out all the wrong messages, send a message of your own…enough! This year at Enlighten, as part of a new workshop we are launching entitled “Real Girl Power,” we will be encouraging teenage girls to talk back to the media by identifying ad’s they think portray women and girls in unhealthy ways.
Our campaign was inspired by the work of American group Mind on the Media and we are initiating it here with their blessing. If you’d like to get involved, and get the teen girls in your life involved too, download the PDF below. These stickers have been designed to be printed out on Avery labels (8 per page – product number DL08) although they can simply by printed on paper and pasted.
girl-caught_pdf_sticker – PDF for downloading and printing at home.
Once girls have “caught out” an advertisement, they can plaster a sticker on it and send it in to us. We will compile these to share on our blog – and will also share the contact details of the companies responsible so we can all contact them to say enough!
These types of grass roots camapaigns are not only very effective in brining about real change, but also encourage girls to feel powerful.
4. CONNECT – Actively seek positive female role models for teen girls. There are some excellent structured mentoring programs, like SISTERtosister, but all girls can be encouraged to seek out older girls and women who can help them achieve. Teen cosmetic company Bellaboobabe is promoting role modelling on its new look site (which also features some very good Get Real messages).
Over to you – what will you be doing in 2009 to move things forward for girls?