By Meredith Schneider
Programs that encourage young women to follow their dreams and focus on their ambitions have existed for years. According to the International Labour Organization, “the global gender pay gap ranges from 3 percent to 51 percent with a global average of 17 percent.” They have also released statements affirming that under 25 percent of US CEOs are women, a gap that has caused the necessity of gender specific programs.
Although inequality and Civil Rights issues in the past required some early programs to function behind closed doors, hundreds of new organizations and resources have emerged since the turn of the century, facilitated in part by the social abilities and implications of the internet. Programs that are geared toward the betterment of women as a whole are deemed imperative by many, and these ideals can be found in places you might not have originally suspected.
Since 1972, the American Civil Liberties Union has been striving for gender equality. Programs, such as the ACLU and Amnesty International USA, provide broadened women’s rights education and additional resources to increase women’s opportunities. For example, ACLU funds the Women’s Rights and the Humans Rights Program, which “addresses gender-based violence and trafficking.”
Both the ACLU and Amnesty International USA fund bills and propositions that support the equality of women, as well as support the prevention of sex trafficking worldwide.
Organizations such as the United Kingdom’s I’mPOSSIBLE and other, more specific, groups have popped up as references for young women who seek a better tomorrow for themselves. In 2010, I’mPOSSIBLE posted on their website that their “aim is to educate and empower young women of colour in Britain by celebrating, highlighting and promoting the achievements of British women from all ethnic backgrounds.”
Their most recent project was taking around 100 London schoolgirls to the House of Commons to hold an open discussion about success.
“The date, April 25, 2013 will forever be etched in our memories as a day we helped inspire 100 young ladies from London in the House of Commons to not only see the POSSIBILITIES of others like them,” Simone Bresi-Ando, founder of I’mPOSSIBLE, said in a public statement regarding the event. “But to also recognise the POSSIBILITIES of themselves and use that insight to reach their goals and fulfill their dreams.”
Another program, the National Organization for Women–or NOW–is the “largest organization of feminist activists in the United States.”
Since 1966, those in charge and their members have taken considerable action to promote equality for women. They attend rallies, host events, and march in honor of the ideals of gender equilibrium. Their most recent news has been their support in the ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment, discussed on their official headlines page.
“With the gender pay gap stagnating at 77 cents, it’s obvious that women need much better protections,” highlighted NOW President Terry O’Neill. “Women of color, in particular, would benefit from the ERA with the gender pay gap for African-American women at 64 cents and for Latinas at 56 cents. Sex-discrimination is still a factor in many areas and the ERA would heighten the legal standard to strict scrutiny, enabling women to more successfully press their cases in court. Additionally, the presence of an equal rights amendment in the constitution would more broadly discourage discriminatory practices by employers, law-makers and government agencies.”
But let’s get back to the basics. Girl Scouts. The Girl Scouts of America–or GSA–has existed since 1912, and was formed so “all girls [could] be given the opportunity to develop physically, mentally, and spiritually.” For 101 years it has been fulfilling that mission — as well as providing the world with some of the most delectable cookies known to mankind.
“I do believe in GSA,” admits former Girl Scout troop leader Christine Bacchini. “It is aimed at all levels-for the youngest at age 5, through young adult. If you include the adult leaders-the program helps to further develop leadership in adults who may not have realized they are capable of continuing to grow as an individual, as well as working with other adults in providing events and projects to promote girls to their fullest.”
Fellow former Girl Scout troop leader Elizabeth Schneider couldn’t agree more.
“The material that we had during the time I was a leader wasn’t saying you could do better than boys, it was just trying to build the girls up,” she says. “Not at the cost of somebody else, including boys. Boy Scouts also have kind of parallel programs that are just there to give the boys skills and confidence on their own. It’s healthy.”
“Girls are different than boys and as girls mature they have different needs to promote self esteem,” adds Bacchini. “It takes the other sex out of question of if girls are shy or trying to impress instead of working on themselves.”
If you look around, there are many programs available at your fingertips to better the development of yourself and your loved ones. Be sure to educate yourself on the options that are available, and stay positive regarding the future, despite which gender you are or identify with. Nobody has ever said it better than the infamous Roseanne Barr: “The thing women have yet to learn is nobody ever gives you power. You just take it.”