There are 1.1 billion girls in the world. On International Day of the Girl, it’s time to focus on solutions for change so those girls won’t have to wait 217 years to reach full gender equality. This means equal pay for equal work, a balanced gender ratio in leadership positions and the accurate portrayal of women and girls in media and advertisements.
Representation matters, because if you can see her, you can be her. We have a representation problem that is impacting the next generation of leaders: Women account for only 4.8% of Fortune 500 CEOs, just 22% of the world’s parliamentarians are women and 40% of women don’t identify at all with the women they see in advertising.
For those of you in the messy middle, not only are you overcoming cultural and systemic barriers every day as you rise up into leadership positions, but you are also helping to level the playing field for the next generation by being a role model. This isn’t about men versus women or boys versus girls. When we achieve equality, everyone wins. Gender equality isn’t a female issue; it’s a social and economic imperative. In fact, as much as $28 trillion dollars could be added to the global GDP if we reach full gender equality by 2025. On International Day of the Girl, here are three solutions for change to advance equality.
Practice mentorship in the moment. Mentorship matters: I’ve always believed that relationships are the key to success, and studies show thatwomen who have mentors are more likely to get promoted.
Mentorship doesn’t have to be formal—you can lead by example and share advice in the moment regardless of position or level. In honor of International Day of the Girl, The Female Quotient partnered with Plan International USA to bring young mentees into some of the world’s leading companies, such as NBCUniversal, Facebook, Viacom and Google. By shadowing strong female mentors there, girls see that they too can become leaders, and learn the skills they need to become one.
Be intentional about the media you consume. Media helps shape culture and how we see ourselves, yet equality is far from reality in Hollywood. You as a consumer can do your part to help support women, both in front of and behind the camera. It may sound too good to be true, but watching your favorite movies and shows can help advance equality if you mindfully choose media created by female directors and writers, as well as stories featuring strong female leads. Show up at the box office for films directed by women such as the upcoming “On the Basis of Sex” by Mimi Leder or “Mary Queen of Scots” by Josie Rourke. Check out projects done by Reese Witherspoon’s production company Hello Sunshine, which finances films created by women. Let’s support the creation of media that will help girls dream bigger for themselves.
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