The language we use in our daily lives plays a vital role in the empowerment or disempowerment of women. “You run like a girl” and “You throw like a girl” are just a few of the common insults that people use on a daily basis. So often we look past these comments not really understanding its true impact of positioning women as weak. Former Banyana Banyana captain Amanda Dlamini gives her view.
I strongly believe that the empowerment of women and girls is not only important for an equitable society, but is essential to build stronger economies, achieve internationally agreed-upon developmental goals, and improve the quality of life for women, men, families and communities.
From what I have observed, words can be seen as one of the world’s most powerful tools. Words are like seeds. They have creative power. They also have destructive power. They carry an enormous weight that can impact people for decades, it can be a reason to give-up, provide courage and empower girls to be great and lead their generation.
Over time, I have come to realise that words can be dangerous as they have a big impact on how young people see themselves. Children develop ideas about who they are from a very young age. Therefore, it is imperative that we use encouraging words to build their morale and make them believe they can do anything.
In my opinion, campaigns such as the ‘Always like a girl’ certainly speak to the importance of girls being confident, especially as they enter puberty, because this is one of the most daunting times in any young girls’ lives. Undoubtedly, the onus is on everyone to send a positive message of taking a stand and showing young girls everywhere that doing things like a girl should never be seen as an insult. I am convinced that every girl is capable of greatness and we must continue to empower our girls into powerful women of tomorrow.
An Always™ sponsored survey by Research Now revealed that the start of puberty and their first period mark the lowest moments in confidence for girls. They also captured on the LikeAGirl video that clearly shows how people of all ages interpret the phrase “like a girl” differently, particularly younger and older girls.
Young girls between the ages of five and 13-years-old launched fearless karate kicks when asked to throw, run or fight “like a girl” respectively. The older girls fulfilled the negative stereotype – a 20-year-old marathoner flailed her legs and mockingly expressed angst about her hair when asked to “run like a girl,” a 19-year-old with toned arms flapped her hands to demonstrate “fight like a girl”, and a 14-year-old volleyball player lamely flung her arm when asked to “throw like a girl.” The research also demonstrated clearly how a little encouragement can go a long way in changing girls’ perceptions of what it means to be a girl.
Like A Girl should never be used as an insult – but rather show what it means being strong, talented and downright amazing girl.
In conclusion, there is an empowerment slogan that should be engraved in our minds – Strike a Woman and you Strike a Rock. Women are the rock of our society and the mothers of our nation.
Amanda Dlamini is a player for the Banyana Banyana football team and a former captain of the team.
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