International Women’s Day is celebrated on March 8 to recognize and reflect on the positive contributions women have made within our communities and on a global scale. This year’s theme, “Be Bold for Change,” is a call for us all to build a more inclusive, gender equal world. I believe girls can play a major role in that charge.
Throughout history, girls and women have been formal and informal leaders of significant political, economic, scientific, social, and cultural change. Their leadership, however, has often gone unrecognized. That’s why it’s so important to teach girls from an early age that the more women can lead and contribute, the stronger our society becomes.
Gender bias and limiting stereotypes about women present barriers to girls viewing women – and so themselves – as leaders. It is essential that girls have experiences that help them discover the power of their capacity to lead.
Investing in girls as change agents
Girls are leaders today: They are the experts on issues that influence their lives and they have the power, ability, and desire to make their communities better places to live. Whether it is barriers to education, health and safety, or social justice, girls have a voice and perspectives to share – if given the space and support to do so.
The first step is helping girls become aware of their rights. They have the right to resist stereotypes, have confidence in themselves, appreciate their bodies, be economically independent, and to be safe – to name a few. Then, we must involve them in activities and provide opportunities that allow them to boldly advocate for themselves and the issues that matter most to them.
The health and development of nations is tied to the long-term wellbeing of women and girls. Known as the “girl effect,” investing in girls has a ripple effect on their families, communities, and ultimately society. As we work towards solutions to the ever-changing, complex challenges of today, it is imperative we harness the full participation of women and girls.
On March 7, Girls Inc. will present The Honorable Hillary Rodham Clinton with the 2017 Girls Inc. Champion for Girls Award at our annual New York Luncheon for her life-long commitment to advocating on behalf of girls and women. Her contributions as a leader and global citizen show girls everywhere there is no limit to their potential.
In celebration of International Women’s Day, let us together recommit ourselves to empowering girls to be leaders.
The future awaits.