Despite all the talk about equality these days, women are still stereotyped even in Western countries, especially if they try to fit into men-dominated spaces. Many industries, such as the tech, engineering, and mining sectors employ very few women compared to men. This is not because women are less capable in those domains; they are just made to believe so, and in many cases, are denied the chance to prove their worth.
Girls have long been discriminated against by society and made to believe that they are inferior or less important than boys. Studies conducted by the United Nations on different traditional practices have found that the boy child is still viewed as better or more capable than the girl child in many countries. Harmful traditional values and beliefs like son preference, forced marriages and female genital mutilation still affect girls around the world and have dealt an enormous blow to their self-esteem and ability to succeed.
There have been several government interventions to address these harmful practices. Different organizations have come up with women empowerment programs that are geared towards helping young girls and women have a voice in the society and achieve their full potential.
How Do We Empower Young Women and Girls?
I raise up my voice – not so I can shout, but so those without a voice can be heard… We cannot succeed when half of us are held back.
– Malala Yousafzai (read more quotes)
So what is women empowerment?
These are efforts and activities aimed at changing young girls’ and women’s mentality from “can’t do it” to “can do it.” It is about creating an environment where women can have a voice in economic, political and cultural issues. These women and girls empowerment activities boost their self-esteem and allow them to participate on an equal platform as their male counterparts.
The following are some empowerment activities that can build self-esteem in young women and girls.
- Building their communication skills
The voice of young women must be heard if they are ever going to contribute fully to the world. Girls must be taught to express themselves articulately to build their charisma so that they can claim a more active role in their society.
- Giving them decision-making roles
In most societies, women have little to no say on the issues affecting them, such as governance, allocation of resources, marriage, childbearing, etc. Right from the family level, women should be participants in the decision-making process.
- Providing leadership space
Of all the activities for women’s empowerment, providing a path to leadership is the most instrumental. It does not only instil confidence but also puts women at a level where they can be able to empower other women. In a male-dominated society, affirmative action is the only way of help women to achieve leadership roles.
Empowering girls and young women is not an ‘option’ for a modern society — it should have already happened a long time ago. The following are some ways we can all help empower young women and girls tobe the best that they can be.
1. Provide education
If you educate girls, you give them the power to conquer the world. An educated girl or young woman knows her rights. An educated woman can perform a job with her acquired skills. She will be able to take care of herself without being reliant on anybody. Education is among the activities for women’s empowerment that lays a foundation for how far a lady can go with her life.
2. Appreciate the women around you
Women empowerment should begin at the family level. Whether it is your wife or daughter, let them feel valued and equal to everyone else. Whether in the neighborhood or office, support women who need assistance and let them know that you care.
3. Invest in small businesses owned by women
All over the world, small business owners are challenged with raising capital. Women are particularly disadvantaged due to historical or cultural reasons. Support a hardworking woman entrepreneur by way of advancing grants or a small loan. It can make a big difference.
4. Be a mentor to a girl child
Reach out to a girl in your community or wherever your heart is and be a source of encouragement. Girls in every society are impacted by violence, drugs, and bad influences. Your act of reaching out could be the saving grace in the life of a young girl.
5. Help young women to join a youth engagement program that will push them to learn and acquire a skill
With the right skills, a young woman will be self-reliant, independent and strong. With the right mentorship from a youth engagement program, girls can take part in activities for women’s empowerment and also mentor other girls in their locality. This initiative should be taken to every area no matter how remote, so that each and every girl or young woman benefits from such programs. Youth engagement services should also be accessible to every girl and young woman wherever they are. These youth engagement services will teach the young women how to tackle life’s challenges and live a more productive life.
If you instil the right values in a girl child when she is still young, she will grow up into a strong woman. Girls’ education can make a lifelong difference to not only an individual’s life but to the larger society.