Thursday, October 10, 2019
“Sally is mopping the floor. John is kicking a ball”. Right from early on in our childhoods most of us have been exposed to books, media and entertainment that have portrayed very stereotypical ideas of what is expected of males and females; subconsciously shaping how we should view the roles of boys and girls, men and women.
The subtle messages have come from all corners – the ads on TV for cleaning products featuring only women, while ads for tools, DIY and sports equipment feature men. The classic Disney movies where the young women are portrayed as vulnerable and needing rescuing by men, and the countless books where the dads are at work and the mums are at home.
While kids’ entertainment has come a long way over the past decade to reflect more diversity and show a broader perspective of what girls and boys can do, there is still a long way to go in the wider society. Outdated comments by politicians, the use of photoshopping in magazines manipulating society’s view of what beauty is, and the influence of celebrity culture are examples of some of the challenges still heavily weighing on gender stereotypes.
The problem with gender stereotyping is that when kids are constantly exposed to the same type of messages from all angles at a young age and right through to adulthood, they grow up subconsciously believing that they are limited to those culturally-prescribed roles. As a result, we see that females are less likely to pursue leadership roles and STEM subjects and careers, and males are less likely to pursue nursing and teaching careers, or choose to become a stay-at-home dad.
That is why this year the focus of The International Day of the Girl (11 October) is on challenging stereotypes, beliefs and attitudes about girls that continue to be reinforced by media and entertainment.
Using the hashtag #REWRITEHERSTORY anyone can get involved in this day by sharing on social media what annoys you the most about the way girls and women are represented on screen. You can share a GIF of a scene or character you would like to see rewritten or just write a comment about what you would like to change.
This awareness day was created to recognise the discrimination girls face for being both young and female and to give them a voice calling for equal rights.
Plan International has long been leading the efforts behind The Day of the Girl and each year run global events and campaigns to mark the occasion. To learn more visit https://plan-international.org/international-day-of-the-girl and tag Plan International @planinternational (Instagram) @PlanGlobal (Twitter) into your social media posts when using #REWRITEHERSTORY.
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