Erasing the conflict
Raising kids that will change the world takes work and support. The Girl Guides of Canada survey reveals all.
With Thanksgiving behind us, and Diwali and Christmas to look forward to, it is officially festival season. For Hindus around the world, this season usually starts with Durga Puja and offering prayers to the warrior goddess, Durga.
One of the main Hindu deities, Durga symbolizes the victory of good over evil. Her story is that of a protective goddess who is willing to unleash her anger against injustice and use her power of destruction to empower the world. She’s the demon-slaying role model that people admire but somewhere along the line in India and everywhere else we have lost our path.
The Noise of Mixed Messages
Why are you so nice?
You say sorry too much!
Why is your body so muscular?
Smash the glass ceiling.
But your job is to raise kids.
Take the Power.
But don’t say anything.
These conflicting messages are even more evident today as the latest scandal of a man in power using his position to harass young girls plays out.
My youth was spent in India where I grew up watching Bollywood movies and Indian TV shows that encourage meek behaviour in women. This was the reality in the land of the Goddess Durga. As a parent you and I have choices to make. As a mother raising two girls I have already made mine – I want my kids to be happy and healthy, and also confident in their power to change the world.
Girl Guides of Canada Survey
A recent survey commissioned by the Girl Guides of Canada shares with us how important it is to understand the conflict in the state of a girl’s world. The survey reveals:
- 59% of girls feel pressure from society to conform to unrealistic standards about what it means to be “a girl.” The society comprises of parents like you and me, the media/social media, teachers etc, and this is impacting the girls’ behaviour and the interests they pursue.
- 56% of girls agree that they get mixed messages about how they’re supposed to act and behave and look and dress.
- More than half of girls (55%) report that trying to meet social expectations about how they should look or act has negatively impacted their self-esteem.
- 30% of girls have avoided or considered stopping an activity or sport they like because not many girls participate.
- 24% of girls don’t feel motivated to pursue their dream career because they’re concerned they will be compensated less than male counterparts.
- Nearly two in ten girls (16%) hide the fact they like Science Technology Engineering Math (STEM) for fear of being rejected by their peers.
It is clear that we all need to better understand what girls are facing so that we can support them. DESPITE seeing beauty standards for girls in the media as unrealistic, a majority of girls (60%) say they feel pressure to conform to them.
You see how confusing mixed messages can be?
The Girl Guides of Canada is trying to better understand the issues facing girls and how there is a need to have girl-focused programs to help girls develop the resiliency and skills that will take them far in life.
On the occasion of the International Day of the Girl (October 11) a day when the global community focuses on the realities facing girls and young women around the world, let’s talk about what we can do to help the society move away from perpetuating unattainable ideals, unrealistic expectations, harmful social norms and stereotypes. And of course mixed messages.
Ours is a world at conflict – of ideas, and priorities and messages. Our kids are growing up in the middle of this confusion and there is a lot at stake. What is clear is that we can’t change the world on our own. Global change starts with ourselves and our community, and there is work to be done.
Disclaimer: I am a passionate supporter of the Girl Guides programme and am participating in their #GirlGuidesofCanada marketing campaign. I have been compensated for writing this post.
Joining Girl Guides of Canada
If you’re considering Girl Guides for your daughter – you won’t regret it – you can find out more about the movement here.
If you would like more in-depth information about the Girl Guides of Canada Ipsos survey please see here.
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