A group of 5 year old girls told me they can’t be doctors. They would have to be nurses instead if they wanted to work in a hospital. When I questioned this, they said there are jobs for boys and different ones for girls. Even after reminding them that my female friend is a doctor (they’ve met her); they still couldn’t grasp that those opportunities are there for them. Those children didn’t always think like this. A year or so before, they believed they could be anything they wanted to be. Why are our young children conditioned to think in this way? Boys also have similar issues with gender inequality, however as it’s ‘International Day of the Girl’ I’ve written this poem:
When Superheroes Ruled
You were drawn to shades of blue
Loved the ocean and the sky.
Many plans for when you grew –
opportunities you would try.
Pink’s now your favourite shade,
not as bold as vibrant red.
Mums and princesses now played –
dreams of making home instead.
Superheroes ruled the roost,
battles fought and peace restored.
Fighting power’s now reduced –
Princess Anna’s now adored.
Forthright and full of spark,
always first to say your piece.
Now less keen to make your mark –
I watch your confidence decrease.
Brilliant doctor you would be,
boundless limits there for you.
You’ve lost ability to see
girls like you can do it too.
Superpower’s not so strong –
future vision’s lost its way.
Originality has now gone –
wish your doubts would fly away.
International Day of the Girl is an initiative started by the UN to promote the rights of girls across the globe. Statistics are sobering. Here a few:
- More females are aborted than males
- Twice as many girls as boys will never start school
- Millions of girls are at risk of FGM (Female Genital Mutilation)
- One in three girls in developing countries, excluding China, is forced to marry before she turns 18.
- One in seven girls are married before the age of 15.
- In some countries, girls are forced to sleep outdoors during their period
- As a girl, you’re at greater risk of HIV than boys
- Worldwide, the biggest killer of girls aged 15-19 is suicide
- Maternal death is the second biggest killer in girls aged 15-19
- If a girl makes it through all of this and manages to start a career, she’s likely to earn less than her male colleagues
- Currently it will take 100 years to end inequality between boys and girls. World leaders have promised an end to it by 2030. That’s 14 years from now. We’ll see.
Living in the UK, the majority of girls have an easier start in life, although female abortion, forced marriage and FGM sadly still take place. The issues many young girls here face, may be classed as minuscule in comparison to those in other places in the world. I still feel they are important and need to be addressed. I’ve watched little girls go from strong independent characters, to shy children unsure of who they are. I hope things have turned around for the better by 2030.