I could quote you statistics for days about the gender inequality that exists both in our own community and the world at large. I could tell you 1 in 5 high school girls have been physicall y abused. I could tell you how women only hold 15.7% of the top positions in Fortune 500 companies. How only 30% of girls in the world are enrolled in secondary school. How by 2015 females will make up 64% of the illiterate population. I could go on and on regarding these statistics, tell you more about girls in our own MCPS enclave who face discrimination and prejudice everyday, but I won’t. It is not enough to merely discuss these facts, but rather, we must enlighten others about it and change the status quo.
In my own physics class, the gender breakdown is approximately 70% male and 30% female. Many pinpoint the lack of women in STEM fields due to lack of female role models and disencouragement from peers and teachers. Yes, this is unjust, unfair, perhaps unethical. But it is not just morally wrong– it is an economic and social hindrance that girls are not being given a fair chance. As first lady Michelle Obama recognizes, “If we’re going to out-innovate and out-educate the rest of the world, we’ve got to open doors for everyone. We need all hands on deck, and that means clearing hurdles for women and girls as they navigate careers in science, technology, engineering, and math.” This ideal can be applied to many women’s issues. As a poster in my room reads, “None of us can move forward if half of us are held back.” We cannot make progress if women are uneducated, subordinated, and pushed down.
As my friend Eliana says, “Gender equality is THE solution for poverty and conflict.” And as the future women in America, the future leaders of America, it is our time to make change. A few years ago, I became involved in an incredible movement called Day of the Girl. The Day of the Girl strives to elevate girls voices in order to help promote gender equality. We even got a Presidential Proclamation signed by President Obama last year recognizing the Day of the Girl. We are an 100% youth led movement going out and making a change, and I am forever learning because of it.
I encourage all of you to go out and make things happen, cause a ruckus, make a change. Adults are perpetually complaining about teenage apathy but from what I see every day, that could not be further from the truth. It’s our time to get out there and work for what we want, make the world the place we want to see. I hope you all will join me.
Visit dayofthegirl.org for more information.
Guest contribution by Julia Fine, Youth Outreach Coordinator for Day of the Girl
Image by Savannah Du, MoCo Student Graphics Editor