Raising girls to be powerful women

Define success on your own terms, achieve it by your own rules, and build a life you’re proud to live.” – Anne Sweeney

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As we start Women’s Month 2015 let us not forget that all women start out as little girls. It’s up to us as parents, guardians and role models to raise girls who will become strong, independent and groundbreaking women. But how do we do that? If girls can be anything, how do we help them to choose and how do we encourage them to reach their full potential?

  1. Acknowledge them for who they are, and allow them autonomy. They have to think for themselves, and sometimes they might not agree with your point of view. Its important to find a way that allows autonomy without undermining parental authority.
  2. Encourage them to take risks and be physically adventurous – think beyond stereotypes and gender. And don’t be too quick to jump in and help them – they might surprise you with what they are capable of. Solving their own problems will build confidence and self-reliance.
  3. Lead from the front and be a good role model – this is possibly the most difficult one. Children learn so much from their environment, and from what they observe and experience. Are you a strong woman, who achieves her objectives and make a difference? As a father or guardian, do you actively support and encourage strong women?
  4. Introduce them to strong female role models in the media and in your community. Don’t know of any? Then make a point of finding out, and sharing this with your children. We found a list here, which includes diverse women such as Michelle Obama and Audrey Hepburn, but how about making your own South African list?  Decide what  strong female role models looks like to you and introduce them to your children.

We have also found a list of books that celebrate differences and encourage adventure and growth, suitable for both boys and girls here.

Possibly the most important things we can do for our girls, as for any of our children, is to listen to them, keep an open dialogue and be the role models we want them to admire. Which uniquely South African female role models do you admire? Do share with us on Twitter and Facebook.

“How important it is for us to recognize and celebrate our heroes and she-roes!” – Maya Angelou