If the themes of this year’s International Women’s Day—#PressforProgress—and Women’s History Month—Nevertheless, She Persisted—tell us anything, it’s this: girls are a force to be reckoned with, and we need G.I.R.L.s (Go-getter, Innovator, Risk-taker, Leader)™ now more than ever.
According to the World Economic Forum’s 2017 Global Gender Gap Report, which measures how well women are doing in 144 countries across the globe, it’s going to be almost 200 years until women achieve gender parity. That’s a long time. However, history has proven that when girls and women continuously show up to fight for equality, change is possible.
As we remember the achievements of the women who have come before us and those who are advocating for change today, let us also use our voices to make the world a better place. Read on for some fun ideas to celebrate Women’s History Month, and ways to ensure that progress marches on.
You’re My (S)hero
Marian Wright Edelman, the president and founder of the Children’s Defense Fund, says it best: “You can’t be what you can’t see.” Research shows that role models are crucial to girls’ path to leadership; they send positive messages about what’s possible to achieve and push girls to dream. Senator Tammy Baldwin of Wisconsin points to watching Geraldine Ferraro’s acceptance of the Democratic vice-presidential nomination as a pivotal moment in her life, stating, “I remember watching that with tears streaming down my face thinking my whole future’s ahead of me and I can aspire to anything.” Ask girls to identify a female role model—it can be someone in their community or a public figure. Then, work together to create a mini-book about their (s)hero (don’t be surprised if a few girls single you out as their role model!).
Full STEM Ahead
While women are making gains in the science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields, statistics show that they are still underrepresented in these careers. Make a habit of incorporating STEM activities into your troop meetings (need some tips?) and help foster a growth mindset (that is, talents and abilities can be developed) when girls are working through tough problems. Build a geodesic dome with your girls—and if you’re really daring, build it big enough to house the whole troop!
Portrait of an Artist as a Young Woman
Self-expression is a great way to bolster self-esteem and enables girls to explore their identities on their own terms. Frida Kahlo, one of the most famous self-portraiture artists, used her paintings to present the many facets of her personality, emotions, and beliefs. But there are many other women artists—like Yayoi Kusama, Cindy Sherman, Shadi Yousefian, and many more—who deserve recognition too. Dive into the National Museum of Women in the Arts‘ artist profiles. Then, have girls draw their own self-portraits. Set out some small mirrors, art supplies, and paper, and get creative!
G.I.R.L.s Speak Up
What does Girl Scouting mean to you? What does it mean to your troop? Do you have a unique Girl Scout story to share? Guess what—your personal stories (plus a phone call or two!) can help us push the Girl Scout Bill across the finish line, ensuring that all girls have access to the Girl Scout Leadership Experience. Chances are, your girls are also passionate about issues that affect them and their community—use our handy G.I.R.L.s in Session guide and encourage them to flex their advocacy muscles by meeting with their local elected officials (and get a patch!).
Girls of courage, confidence, and character—may we know them, may we be them, and may we raise them. With Girl Scouts, there’s no doubt that we’re well on our way there.
Lily Yu – Lily is a Volunteer Resource Specialist at River Valleys. She earned her BA in comparative literature and Japanese from Hamilton College and has a background in publishing and advertising. Though she wasn’t a Girl Scout growing up, Lily is making up for lost time by leading her daughter’s Daisy troop (who’s more excited to work on petals and Journeys—it could go either way!). In her free time, she enjoys going for long walks, reading, and spending time with her family.