How does “Adultism” impact girls? What about sexism, or racism?
These are all issues that were explored by the girls who planned and led our Girls Walk, held on the first weekend in May. Outside the Women’s Centre on the first Friday of May, girls nervously waited for people to arrive and join them on our fourth annual Girls Walking Tour.
Held as a part of the Jane’s Walk weekend, this event is an opportunity for girls to think critically about the world around them. Girls practice their public speaking skills, support one another, and use the walk as a platform to draw attention to issues that matter to them. 10 girls from our Girl Power After School program, for girls in grades 5 and 6, and our Girl Force Program, for girls in grades 7-9, spent the two weeks prior to prepare walking tour stops and speeches to tell walk participants about what was happening in their lives. In preparation they were asked “what do you think the world should know about the lives of girls?” An endless stream of ideas filled the whiteboard. Girls have lots to say about the things that happen around them – and lots of ideas for how adults in their lives can support them – and they were excited to have some listening ears.
When the day finally came to lead a group of over 40 community members, family, and Women’s Centre guests through Bridgeland, girls focused their thoughts to include highlights for five walking tour stops. At the “flyover fun zone”, Elliott from Girl Force spoke about healthy relationships and the importance of consent in all areas of life. Evelynn, another Girl Force member, stopped at Langevin school to speak with the crowd about sexism in video games.
The girls from Girl Power spoke at the next three stops, and Ashanti, Rishita, and Zahra had some thoughts about racism experienced by racialized folks in the medical system, and they had the group stop in front of Bridgeland Medical Centre to drive home the message that we’re all the same on the inside and shouldn’t be treated differently because of the colour of our skin. At St. Angela School, Mya voiced her opinions about the way that gendered stereotypes present themselves as “pink and blue things”, in particular the clothing and toy sections in stores. The last stop of our tour was at Luke’s Drug Mart. Christina spoke about the “pink tax” – the phenomenon in which women’s products are generally more expensive than men’s products; Harmony drew attention to the fact that condoms can easily be found for free, but women and girls are left paying for pads and tampons.
Girls face the challenges created by sexism, adultism, and racism every single day, and it’s girls who can create solutions to change those things. In a society where the thoughts and opinions of girls are rarely taken seriously, it was truly incredible to see a large group of engaged, supportive adults who wanted to hear how they could make the lives of girls a little bit easier. We’re already looking forward to next year!