Is there really still a need to explore power with girls?
After all, girls growing up in America have a wider canvas of opportunities than their mothers, grandmothers, and great-grandmothers before them. Across all racial groups, they obtain college degrees at a higher rate than males. They enjoy less restrictive gender roles and can afford a greater balance in work and life.
But the problem is this. Talking about power is not something that comes easily to women and girls. We are a quarter of a century into a movement to shake up cultural norms that hold girls back but a girl today has a far greater likelihood of being a victim of date violence or rape than of exploring power in the ways identified here. Our girls, all of them - black, brown, white, rich, poor, rural, urban, suburban, Muslim, Christian, trans, atheist, gay, straight, with and without mobility challenges - deserve better.
The girls we’ve worked with sense, but can’t name, what feels unfair to them. No matter their race or income, they develop a keen understanding of how little American society values what they offer the world as they grow up. So if we change nothing about the ways we teach girls to use power, we jeopardize their confidence and their belief that what they do makes a difference.
How can we change this? We can share a vocabulary and skill set so they have a greater shot at accessing power in themselves and the world that surrounds them. Over the past 25 years, advocates have framed areas - relationship, identity, body, choice and leadership - where learning power ultimately sets a girl up to seize opportunity and build healthy relationships. We know that a girl who develops these skills - what we refer to as powers - at a young age holds onto confidence as she grows up. Moms, dads, mentors - all who influence a girl - can help her claim them.