As part of HERstory, we talked a lot about our place in the world as girls and women. While we’ve made lots of progress from where we were back in the days of the Famous Five, we still face some obstacles in our daily lives. Here are some of the thoughts from girls I talked to at the event:
–“As women, we are constantly treated differently simply because of our gender. Girls are told that they can’t do something “because you are a girl”.–
–“I think the most significant struggle that we have to deal with is body image. As girls, we are expected to look a certain way and follow all the new trends. This pressure to look beautiful at all times isn’t applicable to boys as much, which I find strange. Why are we expected to wear makeup and “appropriate” clothing? Boys can wear muscle tank tops without being “distracting”, so why can’t we? We shouldn’t have to hide or change our bodies to fit the standards of society.”–
–“When the boys and girls in my class play sports together, the boys never pass the ball to the girls. We always tell our sport teacher this, but he never listens. The fact that they’re boys doesn’t make them better than us. It would be great if we got more respect.”–
–“Even though women have a lot more rights than we did in the past, we still don’t get paid equal wages to men. I believe that everyone should have the opportunity to be paid the same wage because we are all equal and men are not better than women in any way.”
–“Girls and women experience discrimination, bullying and sexism. People think women shouldn’t have rights or that their place is in the kitchen or in the laundry room.”–
–“Sometimes people assume that when women are being strong leaders, they are moody or bossy. That’s not true, though. Women want to get ahead and be bosses that help people be their best.”–
–“Some of the biggest challenges girls and women experience are the influences the media has over us and how much it affects us. The media controls so much of our lives and give us this unattainable image or example of what we need to look like. “–
As women, we face challenges that are unique to us. I’ve experienced many of the frustrations that the girls brought up, and it was great to talk through them with other girls and women who understood where I was coming from.
Talking about our struggles was important, but one of the best parts of the day was when we discussed some of the ways that we as women and girls could make the changes we wanted to see in the world. We talked about ways that we could make our schools and communities a better place for everyone. I was so inspired by what some of the girls had to say.
–“If we want to make a change, the change starts with each of us. Once we start to make a difference, the movement will spread and others will help too! One day we will live in a world where everyone is equal, happy and able to be themselves.”–
–“The struggles we’re experiencing won’t stop overnight, but we can let other people know about them. Knowledge is power, and hopefully as more people know about what we’re going through they will want to take action. What I want to do is empower both girls and boys to speak up and use their voices to make positive change.”–
–“I want to work towards changing the dress code at my school. It’s pretty obvious that the girls’ dress code is a lot more strict than the boys’ and I don’t think that’s OK. Everyone needs to understand that girls should wear what they want and are comfortable in.”–
–“Casual misogyny has become so ingrained in our society that many people choose to ignore it. We need to acknowledge it, and educate people on the effects of even saying something simple like “you throw like a girl”.–
–“I would stop splitting up teams based on gender in P.E. class. They should put different genders on both teams instead of splitting us into different games just because of gender. The way they do it makes me feel like girls can’t do anything – like sports are for guys and dancing and stuff like that is for girls. We are all human, no matter what gender we are.”–
–“I want to gather people with common interests together to create a sense of connectedness. By channeling our passions, like a love for animals, we can make a difference. We can do things like volunteer at shelters, or bring our own pets to the dog park for a nice walk, while teaching the dogs and ourselves to socialize. By joining our voices together, our voices become louder and stronger, our actions make a difference, and we create a domino effect that people start to follow.”–
–“If people won’t stop putting labels on things, telling us what we can and can’t do, maybe we need to beat them to it. By defining ourselves, we choose who we are and decide what we can and will do. We can follow our own dreams and not the ones people tell us to follow.”–
HERstory got me excited for our future as women and girls. There’s nothing we can’t do, and though we may face some challenges, if we work together we can find ways to make things better. The day was a great reminder about the power of following my passions and finding other people who want to make a difference, too. It doesn’t have to be something big – even something as simple as sitting beside someone who looks lonely at lunch can make an impact. We have the power to make change, and to me that’s pretty exciting!