It’s time to break the barriers that society imposes on girls’ self confidence.
A third of seven- to 10-year-old girls believe that they are judged on their appearance and a quarter feel the need to be perfect, according to a study by Girlguiding UK 
We live in an image-driven world. It’s no doubt that the likes of social media, TV, advertising and music have played their part in constructing gender stereotypes.
Why we need change.
of girls feel that society limits them
Girls' confidence drops by 30% between the ages of 8 and 14
The limits on what girls can / should do that is imposed by society is not what should be dictating the way young girls think about their future. No girl should feel like they aren’t good enough.
Too often we are exposed to power images of men, men as the breadwinner, sexualised images of women and how women should look, and behave. Many times we may not even take notice, subconsciously buying into these ideas. When did something like “you ___ like a girl” become an insult? These are ideas and misconceptions that are affecting young girls – the consequences being false assumptions, and harmful impacts on a girl’s self-worth and self confidence.
These views weigh on the self confidence of girls, inflicting self doubt at a young age and limiting their aspirations. A US study indicated that by age 6, gender stereotypes can affect girls’ choices. As girls start to think about their future, they have a predetermined view of how they are expected to act – affecting choices such as the sports they play at school, the subjects they choose to study and the way they are expected to dress. This not only limits their current choices, but closes the door on future opportunities.
Society’s limitations on girls also significantly affects the way they feel – not having the ability to say what they think, or feeling the pressure to behave a certain way is a significant drain on girls’ self confidence. This can have consequences in later years in the form of lack of independence, inability to develop their personal abilities and limited drive to achieve career goals.
What can we do?
- Point it out – If you hear or see a gender stereotype, call it out! Stereotypes are sometimes difficult to see unless they are pointed out – help others understand how this can be hurtful. Don’t be afraid to speak out and challenge them.
- Influence girls positively – Actively role model gender equality. Show girls that it’s okay to speak out and that their voices matter. Confident girls become self confident women. It is important to encourage girls to look beyond the stereotype and not limit their choices and opportunities.
- Destroying gender stereotypes starts at home – Treat girls and boys the same. This means being conscious of the types of chores assigned to girls and boys to ensure stereotypes are not reinforced. This is important in challenging perspectives from a young age, and sending the right message about the capabilities of girls and boys.
The SISTER2sister mentoring program supports teenage girls by providing them with a positive female role model to be their champion and help them see their true worth. This helps give them the resilience and self confidence they need to realise their full potential. Understanding how trauma has impacted a young person’s sense of future and then supporting them to re-connect to hope for themselves is a significant part of recovering.
We believe that all girls have the potential to change the world and we’re here to hold them high as they do.
Find out how you can give a teenage girl the hope she needs to reach her full potential.
“When I started the SISTER2sister program, I didn’t know how to help myself and I had no confidence. Now I feel like I can change the world, not follow others. I want to set an example and support other girls. I feel like that is possible now.”
– 2015 Little Sister Graduate