Have you ever questioned if you can have something in common with 3.7 billion people? This number is enormous. How could you or I have even one thing shared with all these people? 3.7 billion is roughly how many girls and women are in the world right now.
It just takes a little bit of curiosity, and the answer pops out. International Women’s Day is approaching, and I was indeed curious about this question. And asked several girls around the world what it’s like for them to be women in their countries. They answered.
Result? There isn’t just one thing we have in common. We share:
Safety is something we all wish to have. It is a right, be it boys or girls. But why does it have to be that as a girl, regardless of geographical location, safety is a scarce option? In some countries, walking alone at night is doable, but girls will still keep an eye out.
Harassment is frequent, as well. And action is taken far too little against it. Girls stay quiet out of fear of worsening the situation. Catcalled? A reality regardless of hour for many of us.
Girls and women around the world are, in most cases, not the owner of their destinies. How? Growing up, you are expected to behave in a certain way, expected to adhere to beauty standards and cook, clean, communicate, and the list goes on. Sometimes not with the premise that these are assets needed later on in life, but because otherwise, guys will not want to marry someone like you.
Were you, as a girl, been told this before?
Women and girls are often excluded. They are excluded from better education, better jobs, driving, access to better health facilities, or owning property. Not just physically, but it goes as far, girls not being welcomed even in video games.
Reason? A deep-rooted belief that a woman isn’t as valuable as a man. Studies after studies have shown how empowering and educating girls lead to prosperity in many fields.
The problem is wide-spread and stubbornly hooked into societies. It’s easy to see.
Myths around our capabilities
Some people will argue that girls are not good with math. Or that they have low space orientation. And that logic and rationality rank low in their skills assets.
Have you heard a similar statement before?
When girls take up studies or a predominantly male job, they are being “scanned” for every tiny movement they are doing. Some do all it takes to prove that girls cannot code or cannot fix a car.
Boys and girls perform similarly in science according to studies. However, with advancing age, girls are faced with a lot of lies around their capabilities.
A lower paycheck
As a result of girls not being able to access better education, it is no wonder that most end up doing jobs that earn them little money. Still, when the job is in higher demand, and the result is the same, girls get paid less on average. The product will not earn the same only because a woman created it?
I will let numbers talk here. According to the UN, only 22 countries today have a woman leading as head of state or government. And taking a look at businesses, the reality doesn’t look any better. Only less than 10% of the leading companies have a female CEO. And within this percentage, women-led companies showed remarkable results, improving overall company performance. Why do we doubt the capabilities of women to lead?
Choose to Challenge
The current reality is far from ideal for girls all around the world. However, we progressed.
Women are good leaders when they can empower both men and women, and so are men. It is not a gender thing. Women can be good at maths just like men. Women can do almost everything men can do.
Want to make a difference? Choose to challenge! Challenge beliefs, challenge degrading comments, challenge stereotypes, challenge bad jokes on behalf of women.
Challenging is the first step towards taking action, and taking action means leading the change.