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March 8 : Why Girls Are Making A Difference

March 8 : Why Girls Are Making A Difference

Why Girls? Are Making a Difference

March 8 is International Women’s Day: What are we doing for girls and young women in Canada?

“Sexting in Canada too!”
“Safe ‘sexting’? No such thing, teens warned”
“Fat thighs, bum may help you live longer”
“Growing up afraid to eat”
“Teen Sexual Promiscuity Linked to Children's TV Watching”
“The Myth of Rampant Teenage Promiscuity”
“Promiscuity: A Teenage Epidemic”
“Epidemic! The Growth Of Teenage Violence”
“Why parents must mind MySpace”
“How Dangerous Is the Internet for Children?”
“Girls gone raunch”
“Ugly truth is we are building a crass society”

As we can see, media messages about girls and young women are at odds. Girls are portrayed as passive victims or responsible for everything from an increase in moral depravity to the decline of civilization.

Unsurprisingly, girls tell another story. When it comes to media and pop culture, girls can be experts. Think about it: as the target of most media messages, they are uniquely positioned to understand and criticize the popular culture they are so much a part of.

Girls and young women are not passive consumers of the media: many critically read and actively subvert it. All over the Internet, young women are reinventing media and pop culture on their own terms, pushing the boundaries of what is conventionally offered.

For example, on Kickaction.ca, young women across Canada are redefining the image of girls as agents of change.

“[The media] gets freaked out about us talking about our bodies the way we want,” writes a Kickaction blogger. “Again and again, teenagers, who supposedly grew up with USB keys instead of house keys, are put up for leading a fad of telling too much and making stupid mistakes.”

There are many online spaces to talk about issues for young women, who are often also leaders within their communities. They are taking part in a global movement of social innovation, sharing their insights and practical experiences while working to improve Canadian society and conditions for girls and young women around the world.

Many of us know young women who are committed, fired up, interested, and engaged. How can we support them?

It is essential to validate and celebrate the success and social innovation of girls and young women who are already engaged. With access to resources and support, girls are connected, empowered, and better placed to make change in their own lives and their communities.

As leadership can be expressed in many different ways, supporting future leaders means recognizing critical thinkers, acknowledging girls with new ideas, valuing a diversity of leadership styles and skills, and supporting those who are on the cusp of speaking out. Also, connecting girls with mentors is a powerful way to light a spark for social change and positive intergenerational connections can have a meaningful impact.

All sorts of messages about being female bombard girls and young women. What’s important to remember is that there are tools we can use to sift through, understand, and deal with these conflicting messages, which is why supporting leadership for young women is so necessary.

In our work with girls, we’ve found again and again that young women are at the forefront of building solutions to address violence, advocating the prevention of sexual violence, and encouraging healthy sexuality and relationships. They are entrepreneurial and savvy and are creating solutions that support economic growth and break barriers to employment and education.

What is Girls Action Foundation doing for girls and young women on March 8? We are celebrating International Women’s Day with the launch the first in a series of resources called Why Girls? Intended to reframe the discourse, or “flip the script,” Why Girls? are easy-to-read tools designed to support people who work, talk, or live with girls and young women. Girls Action Foundation is a national charity that leads and seeds girls’ programs across Canada, reaching over 60,000 girls and young women. Visit our website: www.girlsactionfoundation.ca

Tatiana Fraser

Executive Director of Girls Action Foundation