Women’s Equality Day, August 26th, celebrates the certification of the 19th Amendment in 1920, which gave women the right to vote, and the 1970 Women’s Strike for Equality, which increased public awareness of the modern struggles of gender inequality.
As women continue to work toward equal treatment and opportunity today, it is critical that we work diligently to empower our girls. Each 8-year-old with a new sense of her capabilities, each 16-year-old with a clearer view of her possibilities, becomes a woman with the knowledge and confidence to take her rightful place in the world.
Girls Inc.® has been advocating for girls’ rights since its founding in 1945, when the first Girls Inc. Girls Bill of Rights was published. As women have continued to stand up for their rights, the cultural landscape has changed, and the Girls’ Bill of Rights has grown and changed with it. Take a look at the first version, published in 1945:
Girls’ Bill of Rights-1945 version:
- A girl has the right to wholesome companionship, constructive play, and group competition that she may acquire initiative, self-reliance, courage, good sportsmanship and self-control.
- She has the right to a healthy body and well-adjusted personality.
- She has the right as an adolescent, to the companionship of boys her own age, under wholesome conditions.
- She has the right to training for her future all-important job of homemaking and motherhood.
- She has the right to find somewhere in her community wise and understanding guidance by friendly adults, that she may learn to steer a safe course in a world of changing standards.
- She has the right to become familiar with good literature, drama and music, by direct contact with them.
- She has the right to all these things, not merely because she is a human being, but because… as mother of our future citizens… she will someday hold the most important and responsible job in the world.
The current version focuses less on specific experiences and more on the importance of living confidently and unbound by societal stereotypes. It also, of course, acknowledges the breadth of opportunity and independence available to women today:
Girls’ Bill of Rights, Current Version:
- Girls have the right to be themselves and to resist gender stereotypes.
- Girls have the right to express themselves with originality and enthusiasm.
- Girls have the right to take risks, to strive freely, and to take pride in success.
- Girls have the right to accept and appreciate their bodies.
- Girls have the right to have confidence in themselves and to be safe in the world.
- Girls have the right to prepare for interesting work and economic independence.
These ideas are the building blocks of girls who are empowered to be their strong, smart, and bold selves. The Girls’ Bill of Rights recognizes that girls have the ability to choose their own paths and find success on their own terms.
For Women’s Equality Day this year, let’s set an example by living these principles every day–whether it’s taking a risk, expressing yourself boldly, or appreciating your body. Let’s commit to supporting and encouraging the girls in our lives as they discover their own paths and learn to love who they are.
Remember–each step we take to inspire girls today will become the foundation for more empowered women tomorrow. Happy Women’s Equality Day!