This is a post I hope you will show your sisters, nieces, daughters, and grand daughters. It is a post which comes from a very personal place and one I simply had to write on finding out that this is the international day of the girl.
I write this post as someone who though knowing I was a girl form a very early age was because of biology and the social conditions not allowed to be a girl. This was despite the fact that I joined I liked the same pop stars as my girl friends and at primary school before it was socialised out of me by a stricter society than now joined in all the girls games.
It may have been hard for trans girls in my teenage years but that didn’t stop me from wanting to be a girl rather than a boy and looking back on those years I realise that it was women who were my main roles during my formative years particularly my mother , my gran, and my English and Modern Studies teachers Mrs Dowling and Miss Whiteford. Yes even in those days I was miss prim and proper and had I been born as the girl I knew I was I would have been a cert for Girls Brigade.
I make my last comment as someone who is now a woman of the church and is very proud of the excellent girls brigade company we have in our parish. However our girls have been well brought up with loving families there to help them grow and shape their values whilst allowing them the scope they need to express themselves. Sad though it is, not every girl is so lucky and in many countries girls are often seen as no more than a commodity by families and societies which put an unequal value on the importance of boys.
This is not just unfair to girls it’s insulting. To be viewed in such a derogatory manner because of biology is distasteful in the extreme. Sadly however, msyoginist views are still far more deep rooted even in Scottish and British society than should ever be acceptable. This irrational hatred of girls and women is not only wrong it is also dangerous and when unchecked it allows men and boys to treat women and girls to treat women as lesser beings who are dependent on them for survival.
Now this may have worked in the days of the caveman when the males of the tribe were hunter gatherers but we live in different times now and women have discovered we can do things. Well we always knew but we couldn’t hurt the feelings of those poor boys could we. Well we could but I suspect we would have received a lot of sexist reminders from those in ivory towers and told to get a sense of humour. Yes even now there are men and boys who use Fred Flintstone as their role model but to be honest I think they have more in common with his pet dinosaur than they do with Fred.
Personally I find this to be absolutely shocking but there is no doubt that it is learned behaviour and they learn it from male relatives, friends, and peers. Embarrassing though it is I am grateful to say that it is on the decline, but not fast enough for my liking. You see whilst girls are continually outperforming in school exams and at University women are still paid less than men in many areas of work for doing exactly the job and the fact that this is still happening in 21st century almost 50 years after the first Equal Pay Act is nothing short of obscene.
It is this kind of inbuilt discrimination which is the result of years of prejudice which makes it far more difficult than it should be for girls to achieve their potential. This kind of behaviour is not only harmful to girls in terms of self esteem it means that many girls abandon their ambitions and dreams and this is something that can’t be allowed to continue. So it is up to the adults of today to protect the girls of tomorrow both in this country and in others and on this international day of the girl I promise I will play my part by making this pledge from a girl of the Jackie generation who never got the chance to be girl she knew herself to be but who wants every chance to get the chance to be the best she can be.
For every girl everywhere I pledge to fight for you
I pledge to build a fairer world
where girls dreams can come true
I pledge to fight for girls rights
my duty is to serve
I pledge to do the best I can
to give you the world you deserve
And I promise to keep the pledge I’ve made.
@ Gayle Smith 2016