We want all girls to believe in themselves and realize that they matter. However, gender-based barriers and social issues including discrimination, poverty, and unstable home situations can prevent girls from reaching their full potential. This back-to-school season, you can help by supporting girls’ programs across Canada.
The Canadian Women’s Foundation funds programs that empower girls between the ages of 9-13, so they can confidently face the challenges ahead, while developing their interest in physical activity, science and technology, and leadership.
How do we know these programs ignite girls’ potential? The girls tell us themselves in program evaluations!*
Here are 10 ways the programs positively impact girls’ lives:
Self-confidence and resilience
“Being here gave me so much hope and confidence. I feel like no one can stop me.”
Girls in the programs become more confident, less shy and more comfortable speaking up. In every year of the programs, self-confidence was the area that showed the greatest improvement among girls. Overall, 62 per cent or more girls felt more confidence, and 75 per cent or more girls became more resilient.
Leadership and empowerment
“This program made me feel confident, strong, and all-around proud to be a girl.”
Girls reported that they felt empowered and good about being a girl. They gained stronger leadership skills and started to challenge stereotypes about taking on leadership roles. “Many people think girls can’t be leaders but … being a girl shouldn’t stop me from doing it!” said one participant. Ninety-three per cent of the program alumnae continued to feel empowered years after completing the programs.
“It helped me open my eyes to some new ideas that I never thought of before.”
The programs help girls become more open-minded and considerate of others’ points of view. Fifty-nine per cent or more of the girls thought more critically about things after being in the programs. Parents shared similar feedback: “My daughter has been more aware of everything, really taking a deeper look at things … .”
“Now every time I look at a magazine, I see a different perspective than what I saw before. Now I question everything I see.”
Through activities and discussions, girls learn how to challenge what they see in the media. Parents observed significant improvements in this area, while program staff reported that girls acquired skills that helped them to understand the impact media had on their lives.
“I used to feel like an outsider and I wanted to belong. Now I do.”
Attending the programs helps girls develop a stronger sense of connectedness to their peers and communities. They became more open what was on their minds and had in-depth discussions with family members. Fifty-seven per cent or more of the girls in the programs felt more connectedness.
“Being in this program made me think I shouldn’t give up on my dreams and should focus in school.”
Some girls had positive school outcomes, such as better grades, engagement, and increased attendance. Forty-five per cent or more girls said they were more engaged at school after attending the programs.
“I have learned so much in this program it would be hard to list. I find myself using skills I have learned in this program on a day-to-day basis.”
Girls improved their ability to communicate, problem-solve, deal with peer-pressure, and learn where to find resources for help. Both participants and their parents reported significant gains have been made in developing these skills.
Indigenous culture and sense of identity
“Going to girls’ group makes me feel proud to be Native.”
Girls in programs serving Indigenous communities improved their understanding of their community’s culture and teachings, developed a stronger sense of belonging through contact with Elders, and increased participation in traditional ceremonies. Parents said the programs connected their daughters to other Indigenous girls, giving them the opportunity to develop friendships with girls from similar cultural backgrounds.
“This program has greatly influenced my passion for sciences. It was nothing but a positive experience.”
Some of the girls’ programs specialize in helping participants to explore science, technology, engineering and math in a fun, supportive environment. Girls who participated in these programs reported increased interest in STEM subjects, as well as pursuing STEM through activities such as camps, in post-secondary education, and in their careers.
Physical activity and sports
“Being in this program has helped me by making better food choices.”
Girls in programs that focused on physical activity learned about healthy eating and found ways to be physically active. They also reported improvements in body image and that they felt more comfortable with sports and physical activities.
With your support, these are the kinds of changes girls’ programs can have on girls’ lives!
Learn more about how you can help to ignite girls’ potential, and double your giving impact this back-to-school season!
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