Malala is a fantastic role model for girls - but why aren't there more?
This week, Malala Yousafzai won the EU Sakharov prize for human rights. Here MN blogger Lynn Schreiber, who last year launched Jump! Mag, an online magazine which seeks to broaden the role models offered to girls in the mainstream media, explains why Malala's example is so important.
Salt and Caramel
Posted on: Fri 11-Oct-13 11:36:58
(141 comments )
Happy International Day of the Girl! We would have loved to have been able to congratulate Malala Yousafzai on being awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, but unfortunately it was not to be.
But this is no way diminishes her extraordinary achievement. Threats from the Taliban couldn’t stop her writing - nor did the appalling, cowardly attack on her and her school friends. Standing tall at the UN earlier this year, she spoke powerfully and movingly for the rights of girls to an education. The fact that she was considered for the Nobel Prize for Peace – taking her place alongside Aung San Suu Kyi, President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and Shirin Ebadi – is, I hope, testament to the fact that global equality for women and girls is edging closer. What a fantastic role model she is to our girls - and to our boys.
And heaven knows they need it.
From a young age, children are given the message that girls like pink, dressing up, make-up and hairstyles, princesses and horses. Boys are pushed towards cars, tractors, planes and adventure. Campaigns such as Let Toys Be Toys have been successful in highlighting how damaging this is for children – but the media landscape in which our daughters are growing up presents just as many challenges to those of us who want our children to be whatever they want to be.
Our girls are bombarded with images of seemingly perfect celebrities, and feel pressured that they don’t live up to the images portrayed. They are as yet unaware that this perfection is only achievable with the assistance of a team of stylists, flattering lighting and photoshop to smooth the skin and vanish blemishes.
It's time to give all girls the confidence to stand up and speak up, and to know that their voice will be heard.
In March 2012, I started a thread on Mumsnet asking if anyone would like to contribute to a preteen magazine for girls. The idea was that the magazine would offer an alternative to magazines like Girls & Co, Go Girl and Hello Kitty, which offer such a narrow range of options for girls to aspire to. This magazine would focus on fun articles and creative craft ideas, personal and school/career advice, insights into careers that they may not have considered, articles about children around the world and interactive content, some of it written by their peers. We wanted to feature female role models – not celebrities, but sportswomen, archaeologists, engineers, counsellors and councillors.
With the assistance of dozens of Mumsnetters, Jump! Mag was born.
In the year since, we’ve published over 200 articles on a wide range of topics, hosted two writing competitions (the second is currently underway) and featured over 60 articles written by our young readers – everything from being a vegetarian to coping with bullies to what it is really like to live on a boat.
In the coming weeks we’ll be launching a Kickstarter crowd-funding project to develop the magazine further – so do keep an eye out on Facebook and Twitter for announcements. The new Jump! Mag will be a unique online magazine for preteens - a one-stop-shop to inspire and entertain kids, in a safe, girl-positive environment.
We’ll feature games and interactive stories, news and reviews, peer-to-peer counselling, advice on bullying and health and using social media safely – and we’ll be working with other organisations to inform our readers about science, technology, engineering and mathematics – traditionally subjects that are not promoted to girls.
Our hope is that we can be online mentors, guiding the way for thousands of girls around the world, showing them that there are fascinating careers that they might not even know about- and opening up the world for them by showing that there are many more roles available to them than the ones they see in the other girls' magazines on the newsagent's shelf.
In a world that celebrates the bravery of Malala Yousafzai - a girl who is determined to speak out about what she wants to be - we think it's time to give all girls the confidence to stand up and speak up, and to know that their voice will be heard.
By Lynn Schreiber
Apologies. I should have commented on that post.
Thanks for clarifying, Kate.
Apologies for tardiness - we should have come back onto the thread a while ago.
Just to clarify, Jump! is a great venture which was 'born' on MN - and we were happy to be able to promote it on International Day of the Girl. When we briefed Lynn, we were aware that shortly after the blog was to be published, the world would have just discovered whether Malala Yousafzai had won the Nobel Peace Prize; we thought it was reasonable to make reference to that remarkable fact in the context of a post about a venture which aims to empower girls.
We can see that it's possible to read this as a slightly awkward combination - but any awkwardness can be ascribed to our brief, and not to Lynn.
Yes, Gosh - it was almost like that post was invisible.
Katherina - I am saddened that Malala is good enough to be lauded as a role model, but the attacks against her were barely challenged.
A few examples, Vee:
If I were to put it succinctly, in an attempt to encapsulate the obfuscation, muddled thinking and general nonsense of your position, Grow, I would say "You're nuts."
Are you wearing a tin-foil hat?
Ok, for the slow-of-thinking
I think these comments are questionable on several grounds. And everyone who has agreed with Grow (in her objection to the blog) has come in for some kind of insult. Whereas the racism on the thread was ignored by most posters.
I think it was an unfortunate conflict of agendas: OP wished to promote her mag; MN said yes but include something about Int'l Day of the Girl etc.
Clearly you haven't read the thread properly. MN asked her to write about IGD, Lynn agreed, MN were happy. Job done.
I haven't seen grow being mistreated in any way. Maybe we are reading different threads after all.
MmeLindor, are you LynnCSchreiber ?
Actually, the initial draft didn't even mention the magazine at all, as I was trying not to sound like an advert. MNHQ suggested I add more about the magazine since that was (part) of the reason for the blog post.
Do you think that Gok and Alastair Campbell come on Mumsnet just cause they like to chat? They come on to chat about their new book/project.
Doesn't mean their advice or answers are rubbish
although Gok's were
Anyhow. I'm not going to continue to argue about it. <sits on hands>
Tbh, I'm so busy at the moment finding utterly amazing content for the mag and having a ball putting it all together. I have a terrific team who are working for nothing, in the hope that we pull this off. They are seriously talented women, and I'm so chuffed to have found them all.
MUMSNET ASKED HER TO DO IT!!!!!
Indeed. I have read the thread. That's why I said "however it came about". I think it was an unfortunate conflict of agendas: OP wished to promote her mag; MN said yes but include something about Int'l Day of the Girl etc.
Scary, do you think I am jealous of the OP? I've given my reasons for posting.
Porto, don't let the truth get in the way of a good ole green-eyed wallow will you ?
FGS, what are you thinking, bringing the facts into this ?
FWIW, Grow, I agree with you. And you, mystic, and the couple of others who have expressed their unease about this guest blog. I suspect there would be more of us (and more reasoned debate) if it weren't for the personal attacks and patronizing comments aimed at those who object to what reads as a rather cynical marketing exercise (however it came about - and the account of how it came about explains a lot). Some of those comments are unreasonable on all kinds of levels.
Anyway, I'm posting now because I don't like the treatment you've come in for here.
I also took a deep breath at the comment about Malala being "a product of her culture" and this somehow disqualifying her for the Nobel Prize (that'd be why Muslims are so underrepresented then, Dawkins?)
Thanks for posting the link about Miriam Gonzales Durante, Lynn. Thanks also for Jump! I enjoy reading it, and hope that dd will want to write a few articles for it, when she's a bit older.
Much as I'd love to take credit for this, I think it was planned for a while.
Thanks for that - sorry I didn't see your post earlier.
That is very interesting. It is certainly something that I would like to take a closer look at, and perhaps commission a series of articles on.
spork, I did not know of that history - thank you for posting about it.
Reported in a manner where what she says is cut down to the basics in one event - not her repeated fight against them - that was then handwaved away in a manner with how "needed" they are and nothing that touches what she's said about the issues with imperialism. A pat on the head then ignored, that's the message that kind of media gives.
TheSpork This was widely reported in US media:
I'm just marking my place, going to have a read at the links later.
[snorts] at a multi-million pound industry.
Anyway. To the GIRLS.
Have you lot heard of ScienceGrrls? I am meeting with them later this week. They are amazing, and do fabulous work encouraging girls into science.
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