The society has been fighting for the rights of a girl-child because for a long time, we have focused more on the boy-child. According to Litosseliti (page 45, 2012), although the American society has experienced many changes over the past decades, women still find themselves at a disadvantaged position when they have to compete against men. The problem is that the society is blind to the fact that women are in a disadvantaged position.
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The idea that men are superior to women seems to be deeply entrenched in our cultural system that the discrimination against women is generally seen as a normal practice. Girls start facing discrimination at a very tender age when they are in the elementary schools. They get to learn that they are girls, and that as girls, they are inferior to boys. They start developing the inferiority complex at this early stage when they are before boys of the same age.
This gender discrimination is witnessed through to high schools, colleges, and finally to the job market. The situation becomes worse when the girl child comes from the minority groups such as the Blacks, Latinos, or English-as-second-language girls. These girls have to deal with the fact that they are females in a male dominated world. They also have to deal with the fact that they are of color in a world that is dominated by the Whites.
A number of opportunities pass by, but their gender and race makes it very difficult for them to take advantage of them. As Fast (page 28, 2013) says, in this twenty-first century, it is retrogressive to discriminate an individual based on gender, race, skin color, religion, or any other demographical factors. As Martin Luther King Junior once stated, we Americans should judge ourselves based on the character and ability.
We need to give every member of the society a chance to exploit the opportunities that life has to offer without basing our judgment on divisive factors that add no value to our life. It is on this background that I have been motivated to start an organization that will fight for the rights of girls, especially those from the minority groups in this country. This organization is called We Count, a true reflection of what we stand for in this society.
Mentoring Program for Girls in Southern Maryland: We Count
Girls, just like boys, have immense potential that is always unexploited because of the inferiority complex they are subjected to from a very tender age. Girls of color or those from other minority groups face even greater social injustices due to the discriminatory practices common in our society. The belief that women of color are inferior people that cannot achieve success in our society has been demystified.
Mary Eliza Church Terrell, an African American woman, earned college degree at a time when many people believed that African American women could not go through college education. In the current American society, Oprah Winfrey and Mitchell Obama are some of the most influential people in the world despite the fact that they are Blacks. Other Black Women who have made massive impacts in our society include Warris Dirie, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Angela Davis, and Condoleezza Rice among others. These are women who dared to defy culture and social systems that dictated that they should not compete with women.
According to Kaufman and Williams (page 112, 2010), the biggest challenge that we have in our modern society when empowering women of color is the mentality that has been created in them that they are inferior. When such beliefs internalize in their minds, then it becomes almost impossible to make them reason as independent minded individuals who can achieve almost anything they want in life.
The women who have been mentioned above defied the beliefs handed over to them by the society. They had the mental strength that propelled them to positions many believed they could not reach at that time. In our society today, the odds against a girl child, especially those from the minority group, are much severe compared to what used to be the case in the past. We Count believes that the modern-day girl child can be empowered through monitoring programs that will help them achieve great success in their lives. We believe that we count and must be given opportunity in this society.
We Count are committed to ensuring that the negative perception and mentality towards the girl-child is eliminated at the earliest stages of their development. At We Count, we believe that it is only women who have the key to liberate themselves. Other members of the society can only play a supportive role. These women must group up knowing that there is nothing they cannot achieve in this society.
They must be positively aggressive, and must learn how to fight alongside other members of the society. As Chin (page 91, 2010) notes, not long ago the Blacks were not allowed to vote in the American society, let alone vie for an elective position. They had to be represented by Whites who hated their presence, hence did not represent them in the legislative houses as would be appropriate. However, the current American society is now headed by an African American president. No one would have believed that this would be possible. If this has become possible, then girls of color and those who belong to other minority groups should have all the reasons to hope. They should realize that in the society today, sky remains the limit.
Analysis of Structural Inequalities and Systems of Privilege
According to Chin (page 38, 2004), women have remained inferior to men in the global society despite the efforts that have been made to change the state of affairs. In the American society, things have not been any better. The highest political office that has ever been held by a woman is Secretary of States. This is a worrying trend given that the country has powerful women like Condoleezza Rice who have made massive contributions to the growth of our economy. Chávez (page 53, 2014) says that the problem has been the existence of structural inequalities and systems of privilege that constantly favor men.
The systems in our society have deeply entrenched the idea that men are the heroes that help in the development of our country. The film industry, that has massive influence on the perception of our children towards their positions in the society, has played an active role in making our girls believe that they are inferior.
I have noticed that over 95% of these films, even those that are meant for children, portray men as the heroes who rescue the society in times of need. Boys take the character of a brave person who will go against all odds to save the society from evil forces. They withstand pain, they are physically strong, and have the obligation of not only providing for their families, but also protecting their entire society. On the other hand, women are portrayed as a weaker gender that must be protected from all forces of nature. They are easily broken, and it takes the effort of heroes to rescue them. They lack the special skills and knowledge to work their way out of problems.
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Institutions such as schools and churches also play major roles in making girls belief that they do not have the privilege enjoyed by men. For instance, almost all the heroes in the bible are all men. Few women who made some contributions in saving their communities had to rely on men in order to succeed. When these young girls get to learn about these facts, they develop a feeling that they are inferior to men.
At school, the existing structures do not favor girls either. In history, the greatest people who ever lived were men. Nothing is mentioned about their wives and the role they played in the greatness of their husbands. In sciences, things get even worse. Almost all the scientists who made major contributions in the fields of Physics, Biology, Chemistry, and Mathematics are men. Biology goes ahead to explain that men are superior to women in terms of physical strength. All these structured systems make it difficult for the girl child to believe that they have just as much potential as boys do.
Organizational culture and dynamics facilitating the barriers
In the modern society, institutions such as schools, churches, and other places of worship have been identified as the major factors facilitating the barriers to the success of women. It is also important to identify the cultural dynamics that facilitates the barriers to success among our girls. According to Jacob (page 127, 2002), most of the African-Americans have been able to abandon most of the traditional practices of their ancestors.
However, what remains unchanged is the position of the father in a family. He is always the head, and his decisions always prevail. This cultural practice is not just common in African-American families but almost in any other American families. Girls grow up knowing that the father has the absolute power. This means that the mother has to make compromises from time to time in order to comply with the father’s demands. Girls are raised to be mothers, while our boys are raised to be fathers. No single family will want a situation where the roles are changed.
A parent will not be happy if their daughters are more successful than their sons-in-law or when they become the absolute authority in their families. It is common to hear a parent encouraging a successful daughter to look for a man who is more successful in life than she is. This is so because they believe that in that family, the daughter should play a second fiddle to their husbands. Children grow up knowing that this is how life should be.
They appreciate this culture and would make an effort to ensure that the status quo remains. Any girl who tries to go beyond the set boundaries gets names such as tomboy as a way to warn her to remember her position in the society. If they fail to do this and insist on pursuing their dreams, then they become a threat, especially to the male colleagues. They do not get as much attention as girls who learn to live within the borders defined by the society. As Gourley (page 42, 2012) says, no man would be willing to marry an independent-minded woman who can stand and say no, and demand for things to be done in her way. It means that such women will have to withstand rejection from the people who should be supporting them. Not many girls are able to withstand such rejections.
At the adolescent stage, these girls need the attention of their peers more than anything else. That explains why some girls fall off from the academic ladder at a time when they are expected to excel. On the other hand, our culture has set systems in place to cheer any boy who makes positive strides in life. If it is at school, they get attention and admiration of all. They become heroes that should be emulated by other members of the society. Back at home, girls are always assigned tasks that do not need critical thinking and much effort. As our culture dictates, our girls are expected to help in the kitchen or address other household chores.
Structure and Dynamics of the Current Dominant System and How It Operates and is Held in Place
According to Rosser (page 74, 2008), there are a number of structures in our current society that has helped in ensuring that the position of the girl child remains inferior to that of boys. One such dominant system is the religious practices. In both Christianity and Islamic teachings, children are taught to appreciate that men are the heads of family and women are only their helpers. This makes girls believe that their role in society is less important compared to that of men. As Gourley (page 64, 2012) notes, the American society has not been able to completely eliminate racism. This is another major dynamic that affects girls from minority groups.
Barriers and opportunities facing minority girls
At We Count, we are interested in identifying these barriers at different stages of development in order to formulate ways in which they can be addressed in an effective manner. This systematic analysis of the stages at which these barriers occur makes it easy to identify the stakeholders who are responsible and how the issue can be addressed by these stakeholders.
Girls in elementary and middle school
Girls at elementary and middle schools face numerous challenges that bar them from achieving the best they can in their academics and social development. At this stage, the major barriers are the movies these children watch, the stories they read, and what the people around them say. As stated before, all heroes and stars in these stories and movies are men. Girls of color face even greater challenge. Good things like angel tend to be white. However, the evil things like Satan and his angels are black. This affects the way they perceive themselves.
Girls in high school
At high schools, girls from the minority groups, especially the Blacks, face serious challenges. The statistics given by Rosser (page 88, 2008) says that Blacks make the highest percentage of girls who suffer teenage pregnancies while they are in high schools. When this happens, then their education is always brought to a sudden halt. They are also more prone to drug addictions and child labor, factors which limit their ability to continue with their education.
Girls in college
When they defy all odds and reach college, Litosseliti (page 48, 2012) says that these girls face the problem of admission. Many colleges are quick to admit Whites than Blacks. Even in the modern society, the Blacks are still associated with drug abuse in school, unruly behavior when they are high on drugs, and other criminal activities. This makes it twice more difficult for them to secure good colleges as it is to the Whites. In many cases, they are forced to settle on less competitive courses in social sciences. This makes them less competitive when they graduate from these colleges.
How the barriers may affect them when entering the job market
These barriers may have serious impacts on the female graduates when they enter the job market. They are used to compromises; hence they do not mind being pushed around at work. They are more willing to take junior positions at work because life has taught them that they cannot go for the best. Once they settle in a given company, they lose the ambition to fight through to become senior people in these organizations. As Fast (page 28, 2013) puts it, they become docile in these organizations. This is unacceptable, given that most of them have massive potential that goes untapped because of these barriers.
Organizational Intervention to Improve Relationships and Transform Oppressions
At We Count, we believe that a girl-child should be given equal opportunities as those of any other member of the society. we believe that girls also counts in the development of this country, irrespective of their skin color, religious affiliations, or other demographical factors used by the society to profile them. That is why we started this organization in Southern Maryland to help champion for the rights of girls from the minority groups.
We are not restricted to this state. We have plans to roll out this program to other states in this nation. We are exclusively focusing on girls from the minority groups. Our interest is to champion for the rights of the female members of the society with the aim of giving them the same opportunities as those enjoyed by men.
Mentoring model to address the barriers
We at We Count know that the best way of empowering girls is through mentoring them so that they can know how to defend their own rights and interests. Through my previous researches, I noted that in many cases, the African-American girls were mentored by their mothers and family friends who lead the life we are fighting against. These are jobless mothers who have resigned in life. They rely on their husbands to earn livelihoods for their families.
They do not understand what it takes to fight one way through to college and to prestigious jobs. As Chin (page 114, 2004) puts it, they have very little if not nothing to offer to these girls in terms of mentorship. They stand for all the characteristics their daughters would want to fight in life. It is on this background that I decided to recruit the individuals who have been successful in life to take part in this model of mentoring.
We had to look for doctors, lawyers, politicians, senior government administrators, chief executives of top companies, and other role models to mentor these children. Their constant interactions with these girls will be a sign that gender is not a limiting factor in their career lives. The model will include activities such as tutoring, social skills and leadership training, time management and study skills and workshops that will eventually nurture the following values and skills.
High self esteem
For a girl-child to achieve success in life and in her academics, she should have a high self-esteem. She should value herself in order to earn respect of other members of the society. She should consider herself a person with potential, and capacity to succeed in life, just like their peers of different gender or race.
High academic achievement
Academic excellence lays a strong basis for one’s success in life. Girls must be mentored to achieve academic excellence right from the lower levels, through to high school, and finally in colleges. This will assure them a successful future as they strive to be the future role models. To do this, they may need support from the mentors in terms of accessing the right materials such as books.
Critical thinking skills
According to Gourley (page 72, 2012), one of the most important areas of intellectual development for a child is the critical thinking skills. From an early age of development, these girls should be able to discern truth and make decisions even when faced with dilemmas. This should take a systematic approach. At lower stages of learning, these learners can be involved in solving puzzles that demands that they think critically before finding solutions to the puzzles. This should then move to practical experiences in life as they advance to higher levels of learning. At college level, they should have the capacity to find alternative solutions to various problems they or their organizations may face in a practical context.
Strong communication skills
Effective communication is very important in defining how an individual relates to other people at various levels. In order to integrate and influence others, one must have strong communication skills. Our mentors will help these girls to develop effective communication skills that can enable them express themselves before others. They will have to understand that the only way of making the world a better place is by talking to people and influencing their decisions and activities in various sectors. This can only be possible when one is fluent, emphatic, and convincing in her speech.
Rosser (page 38, 2008) says that it is difficult to believe that Adolf Hitler, one of the worst known dictators in history, took over power through a democratic election. Of course, Hitler is always a bad example of a leader who gained power through creative expression. Back at home, we have the best example in the current President Barrack Obama. Many Americans did not believe that an African American would rise to power in the country in this century. However, he did the impossible by being creative in his ways of expression. He was very creative when expressing himself. This demonstrates how the power of creativity in expression can make some of the things thought to be impossible happen with ease.
These girls will need to learn to be compassionate in life. They will learn how to approach every task with all their effort in order to achieve the desired outcome.
In our society, conflicts arise at various levels. For these girls to be useful members of our society tomorrow, they must learn how to resolve conflicts. This will not only make them invaluable assets in their places of work, but also in the society where they live. Most companies are keen on promoting individuals who have skills in conflict resolution.
Resisting negative peer pressure
At We Count, we will make an effort to help these girls overcome negative peer pressure that may harm their future through empowerment programs.
Being well-informed about people of different races/ethnicities
As Martin Luther King Junior once said, we should not fight racism by drinking from the same cup of racial segregation (Fast, page 67, 2013). We will ensure that these girls understand that there is no fundamental difference between them and others beyond the issue of skin color.
These girls will be involved in various activities that will make them become active members of the society. The mentors will organize activities where these girls will be expected to participate in giving back to the society in an attempt to make them understand the society from a new perspective where they are empowered.
Aspirations for college, graduate, and professional school
At very early stages of elementary learning, the mentors will inculcate the desire among these girls to pursue further education beyond bachelor degrees.
The ability of these girls to manage forces in life depends on their capacity to manage stress. The mentors will train the girls on how they can manage stress at different levels. This will give them emotional strength to overcome societal challenges.
Self-discipline STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) awareness
Finally, we will ensure that subjects such as Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math that were previously considered to be a preserve for men are accessible to these girls. Accessibility of these subjects will be based on nothing but their mentality towards them.
Building Unity across all Socio Economic and Social and Civil Rights Movements
The ultimate aim of We Count is to build unity in our society. We seek to partner with other civil rights movements to ensure that we have a society where everyone is treated as equals in all spectrum of life. Issues of gender, racial background, religious affiliation, political alignments or any other factor should never be used as a basis of segregation. Our girls should be accorded equal rights, just like boys. The minorities should not be oppressed simply because the majority must have their way. We have to live in a society where one is judged on the basis of his or her character, not gender or race.
The American society has made impressive steps towards addressing the issue of gender and racial discrimination that existed in the past. The economic and academic gap that existed between Blacks and Whites, and men and women has been narrowed. However, we at We Count believe that this gap should be completely eliminated. Our girls of color, just like the Whites, should be offered the best opportunities that are available to boys so that we can have uniform growth.
Chávez, L. (2014). The color bind: California’s battle to end affirmative action. Berkeley: University of California Press.
Chin, J. L. (2004). The psychology of prejudice and discrimination: 3. Westport. New York: Praeger Publishers.
Chin, J. L. (2010). The psychology of prejudice and discrimination. Santa Barbara: Praeger.
Fast, I. (2013). Gender identity: A differentiation model. Hillsdale: Analytic Press.
Gourley, C. (2012). Ms. and the material girls: Perceptions of women from the 1970s through the 1990s. Minneapolis: Twenty-First Century Books.
Jacob, I. (2002). My sisters’ voices: Teenage girls of color speak out. New York: H. Holt.
Kaufman, J. P., & Williams, K. P. (2010). Women and war: Gender identity and activism in times of conflict. Sterling: Kumarian Press.
Litosseliti, L. (2012). Gender identity and discourse analysis. Amsterdam: Benjamins.
Rosser, S. V. (2008). Women, science, and myth: Gender beliefs from antiquity to the present. Santa Barbara: ABC-CLIO.