We’re sharing this piece as part of our #GirlsTakeover initiative, in line with International Day of the Girl. Here Elizabeth Payne shares how we can all help bridge the confidence gap to support girls in achieving their leadership and activist aspirations.
Got a young activist on your hands? Inspired by Greta Thunburg and keen to transform our world into a better place?
I’ve always been interested in making a change. Growing up, I would jump on opportunities to help run donation drives, collect gold coin donations, attend workshops on leadership in the community, and now I’m a Youth Activist with Plan International Australia.
Findings from Plan international’s She Has a Plan report shows I’m not alone, 54% of young people feel they want to be a leader in making positive changes for the future, whether it be through achieving gender equality, creating free education for all, and reversing the effects and impact of climate change.
The statistics also show that there is a gap between confidence to make change when they are younger, with 82% feeling very much or somewhat confident to lead change, and when they emerge into their later teens at only 18%. This is because often girls feel out of place, or don’t know where and how to create change.
How do we bridge this gap? Simple. As a parent, guardian, or teacher, show young girls that their voices are heard, they can make change, and they can start making impacts now.
Start at home. Start discussing gender equality with girls when they are young. They might be experiencing the effects and don’t even know about it, when they learn to recognise injustice they are more likely to speak out.
School is a great place to speak up and be heard. Encourage girls to stand up for what they believe in, join the leadership team, take up opportunities to create impacts in the wider community, and engage in social issues.
If there’s not already a space to do these things create it! Get then to talk to teachers about forming a student group, or pitch their own ideas for change in the school and beyond.
Draw inspiration from youth leaders across the world. Girls identified Malala Yousafzai, Emma Watson and Greta Thunburg as who they most admire for their efforts to improve the lives of girls and women. The saying “you can’t be it if you can’t see it” applies here.
Show girls there are other young people they can look up to as strong, impactful change makers. The She Has a Plan Report also highlights youth activists across the globe so go have a look at the different impacts Sarita, Abeigel, Barsha, and Lady, are creating in their communities.
Make an international impact. This month, you can sign up to Plan International’s Give Equal campaign, which raises funds to ensure girls across the globe get an education and can lead and thrive.
Often the critique of girl activists, including Greta, is that we should let kids be kids, and of course we should. But young girls are saying they want to take change and be leaders. You can do both!
Kids love coming up with creative solutions to local problems, they have passion for the future, and creating lasting bonds with their peers. These are all leadership qualities.
Whether you were at a school strike for climate or saw the photos, you would be able to see that the energy and capability of young girls is incredible. I am so excited to see a new generation of change makers emerge and celebrate their achievements. So, let’s support them, let their voices ring loud and help Girls Get Equal.