Empowering girls

Confidence is Crucial

This is the sixth post in the Confidence Stories series in partnership with Always®. Confidence Stories feature stories, tips and ideas to support girls, build their confidence, and encourage them to Keep Playing #LikeAGirl.

Most girls start out strong in life: they score higher than boys in reading and writing, they tend to make friends more easily, and they have stronger verbal skills. However, as they approach adolescence, many girls start to struggle

Research shows that only 14% of girls in Grade 10 feel confident, yet confidence is at the core of a number of positive outcomes for girls, including higher grades, better physical health, more career choices, and higher earning potential.

When a girl feels confident, she is also more likely to ask for help, to have the strength to resist peer pressure, to cope better with conflict and other problems, and to not blame herself if she is assaulted.

Challenging Gender Stereotypes to Prove #ABoyCanToo: Q&A with Kirsten McGoey

When photographer Kirsten McGoey was searching for a fresh way to practice her art, she didn’t have to look far for inspiration: her middle son sparked her photo series #ABoyCanToo. “He beats to his own drum,” says Kirsten. “While a lover of math and science, he is often drawn to things that are not considered male by society.”    

#ABoyCanToo is a series of lifestyle and studio portraits featuring boys aged 4-16 whose interests and hobbies defy gender norms. "The objective is to support the boys who are making these choices, and who are influencing people to understand that they are acceptable choices for young men to make,” says Kirsten, who launched the project out of her hometown of Whitby, Ontario in 2016.

In the following Q&A, she discusses she discusses how the photoshoots empower boys, and how challenging gender stereotypes relates to gender equality. 

Empowering Girls Through Culture, History, and Friendship: Strong Girls of Inlailawatash

When a shy girl gradually emerges from her shell and develops the confidence to lead a group activity, Jennifer Hamman knows that the Strong Girls of Inlailawatash program is succeeding.

“Just seeing them take those opportunities to take a little risk, to be a little vulnerable, and to let themselves just be themselves has been a really awesome thing to watch.”

The program, which receives funding from the Canadian Women's Foundation, provides a rare girls-only space for Tsleil-Waututh First Nation girls aged 9-13.

The Tsleil-Waututh community is set on the Burrard Inlet, surrounded by urban North Vancouver. As program coordinator, Hamman organizes the weekly program meetings, which aim to foster healthy relationships and connect the girls to their culture in a positive way. Hamman, who is also the Tsleil-Waututh Community Therapist, talks about how the program helps develop girls’ confidence, connectedness, and resilience.

5 Ways to Nurture Leadership in Kids

Girls smilingEvery child is a potential leader. Even if they weren’t “born” leaders, they may be taught to become them by parents, teachers and other role models.

Leaders are people who have the ability to empower others to get things done. They inspire other people and set the directions to create something new. It isn’t about being at the top of a hierarchy, but about forging a path forward in collaboration with others.

So what personal qualities and skills could make your kid a great leader? There isn’t an exact answer. It all depends on personality and surroundings. For instance, some children are more confident than others, but that doesn’t make them a leader. As a parent, you play a huge part in helping your child develop the ability to lead.

Girls, Let's Fail Together

Parents walking with child

This article was originally published on Puzzling Posts.

We went on a family vacation late last year. It was a wonderful family experience where the girls got to play in the ocean, watch monkeys swing through trees, and learn that there are more places on earth than Ottawa.

And yes, we pulled our oldest daughter from school for the week to make this happen. Away from math classes, away from science projects, and away from whatever style of dodgeball teachers are able to get 6-year-olds to participate in.

10 Inspirational Messages to Girls in Canada

Girl smilingIt’s an unfortunate fact: Every single day, girls in Canada are exposed to thousands of media messages telling them how to look, think, and feel.

The impact of this on girls’ well-being is serious: We know that through constant exposure to sexualized imagery, women and girls learn that their primary value comes from their physical appearance.

We also know that when girls are socialized to obsessively focus on their appearance, they pay a steep price.

All this made us wonder: What would happen if girls were in the position to create the messages they see?

This message is brought to you by #GirlPowered!

Girl Powered Girl Council choose their favourite girlpowered messagesThe girl council has spoken!

A cross-Canadian group of girls has shortlisted the most powerful messages from the 1,500 submitted to girlpowered.ca. But, given the sheer volume and awesomeness of the submissions, it wasn’t an easy task.

“How am I going to pick?” asked Brenna, 12, as she and her fellow council members began poring over pages of messages, including “Follow your dreams, even the wild ones” and “Be the girl you look up to.”

Say No to Pretty Doormats

Mother and daughter smilingThis post was originally published on LinkedIn.

Recently my 18-year-old daughter asked me, with great trepidation, if I thought she had “too much to say and an opinion about everything.” I laughed. There is no doubt that my daughter has a lot to say. And though I could see she was unsure of herself - we couldn’t be happier that she has a mind of her own. Well, most of the time. 

Kim is smart, articulate and confident. She has learned, as she’s grown, to make room for the opinions and input of others. She’s learned that there is more than one right answer. She knows she isn’t always right – but she’ll certainly put in a good volley. She’s learned, despite the fact that many will try to quiet her voice, that speaking up is an act of leadership.

Want to See More Girls in STEM? Do Away with Gender Stereotypes

Girl studying scienceAt the end of this academic year, graduates’ names will be called in alphabetical order as they waltz across a stage. They will shake hands with a university dean, move the tassel on their cap from one side to the other, and pose for their parents’ cameras.

For decades, graduation ceremonies have been carried out in relatively the same way. But one significant change has occurred. The proportion of women graduates now surpasses that of men. According to 2012 data, 58% of all post-secondary graduates are women.

New Inspiration for a New Year

Darlene smilingPsst! It’s contagious! And we’re not talking about this season’s strain of the flu.

We’re talking about inspiration, which we can all do our part to spread by sharing positive stories, ideas or experiences that might help others in their own lives.

Inspiration is just what we need at this time of year, when we’re envisioning fresh starts, new challenges, and resolutions (that we’ll actually stick to!). So today, we’re sharing two stories that inspired us in the past year and asking you to share what, or who, motivates you!