Today, I am celebrating the International Day of the Girl.
I am ambitious for all children, but I think it is particularly important to talk about the successes of young women and girls and to acknowledge the specific barriers they face.
This year, I’ve had the pleasure of encouraging girls to think about maths skills and exciting career paths in STEM, seen the example set by Lionesses in the Euros for girls interested in finding success and belonging in sport, and had the pleasure to meet the fantastic young women at Eden Girls School in Walthamstow.
Because it is the tenth anniversary of the International Day of the Girl, I thought it would be appropriate to hear directly from some ten year old girls. Below is a selection of quotes from children who responded to The Big Ask, the largest-ever survey of children that I conducted last year, about what they were thinking about.
“A big family what love you [sic]” – Girl, aged 10.
“Personally, I think that to achieve something I will need a good education and to get a good education you need money also you need it to look after yourself and loved ones [sic].” – Girl, aged 10.
“A good comunity and lovely friends [sic]” – Girl, aged 10.
“When your a child you have big ambitions to make the world alive and can make great changes but most of the things you need, adults hold it out of your reach or say your to young to do it [sic]” – Girl, aged 10.
“Theres not enough help for people that have mental health problems. A little bit like me but not because of home its because of school [sic].” – Girl, aged 10.
“Adults having favorite children not just your parents but also teaches and coaches [sic].” – Girl, aged 10.
While the majority of children who responded to The Big Ask were happy overall, girls were nearly twice as likely as boys be unhappy with their mental health (25% vs 13%). It’s very concerning to me that a tenth of the ten year old girls who answered mentioned bullies or bullying directly and a common theme in many more responses was concerns about how they were treated or how others made them feel.
“I think being bullied stops them because they get really sad and it makes them kind of stop and not be bothered about anything” – Girl, aged 10.
“Bad environment, cyber bullying and a bad local area [sic]” – Girl, aged 10.
“You might get bullied about your skin, the way you look and the way ur eyes are so you might stop your dreams just because of them [sic]” – Girl, aged 10.
I look forward to another year of celebrating the successes of girls and challenging the things that they feel are holding them back.