Teen Girls: The Next Generation Tackling Gender Inequality Globally


Thanks to the rise and dominance of social media, teens everywhere have been given a new voice that has never been heard before. In times past, the media portrayed teens as un-empathetic, superficial, selfish and troublesome. While that stereotype may be true in some senses, thanks to the rise of platforms giving people a public voice, the world now has an even greater insight into what teens are really passionate about.

There have been so many examples of teen girls staging protests and campaigns to make a change. Julia Bluhm and her fellow high school students were the teens responsible for forcing Seventeen Magazine to see they don’t want to see too many photoshopped images in the magazine. Seventeen has now committed to changing their policies on the images they publish. That’s next generation activism right there.

Teen girls were responsible for starting a campaign on Change.org to force the media to include women moderators at the 2012 presidential debates, something that hadn’t happened in 20 years. As a result, 2 out of the 4 debates were helmed by reputable female political correspondents in the media.

Given the chance, it seems teens will rise to the occasion, as they are less burdened with social stigma and male oppression like their previous generations. They have demonstrated time and time again that they aren’t afraid and that gender equality in their lifetime is not an option: it is a must.

BBC reporter Ros Atkins (our new man crush because of his reports on gender inequality) attended the recent Women in the World summit in New York, and had the chance to put a group of teen girls together from around the world, with some of the adult female panel experts from the summit to talk about equality.

Lulu from the UK, ShoeShoe from Lesotho, and Vigdis from Iceland (which is apparently the country ranked as the most equal in the world) were all part of the debate and joined some local American teens for the debate. The three international girls were the subjects of a previous documentary Ros did on gender equality around the the world, and this debate was a follow on from that. Both videos are below.

The general idea was to discuss what stands in the way of 100% gender equality, what kind of world do these teen girls want to grow up in, and how they can work to make it happen.

“I’d like to do what I want, say what I want and wear what I want without being treated differently from the boys,” says Lulu.

They talked about the double standards placed upon men and women which seems to be a common thing among all the countries represented at the debate.

Teens are not the only generation tackling gender differences and challenging the status quo, but it is important to highlight that the next generation of women are already working toward change. We have to mobilize women of all ages to understand that gender inequality affects us all.

In her ‘Life is But A Dream’ documentary, Beyonce shares a great sentiment which was the idea behind her song ‘Girls’. This song is featured at the start of Ros’ BBC documentary about gender equality below called ‘What stands in the way of women being equal to men?’

“Women have to work much harder to make it in this world. It really pisses me off that women don’t get the same opportunities as men, or money, for that matter. Because lets face it, money gives men the power to run the show. It gives men the power to define our values, and to define what’s sexy, and what’s feminine, and that’s bullshit!” says Beyonce.

“At the end of the day its not about equal rights, its about how we think. We have to reshape our own perception of how we view ourselves. We have to step up as women and take the lead, and reach as high as humanly possible. That’s what I’m gonna do, that’s my philosophy. And that’s what ‘Girls’ is all about.”

How fitting that it is in fact girls who are already seeing the problem at such a young age and questioning the societal boundaries and institutionalized messages forced upon them from birth.

If you have time today, watch the two videos below to get a greater insight as to the issue of gender inequality from a teen girls’ perspective. If you don’t have time, book mark this page for later and be sure to watch these videos with your colleagues, girlfriends, daughters, nieces etc.

We need to mobilize and encourage women and girls around us to think about these issues and how we can do our part to reaching equality on a global scale. What stands in our way? How can we make a difference in our communities?

Ros, we love you and thank you for bringing such a great topic on the BBC. We hope you continue to give visibility to the struggle women are going through, and engage more men in the conversation.






  1. Pingback: Teen Girls: The Next Generation Tackling Gender Inequality Globally | bkirklandblog

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