Stephanie Asher: Pretty Powerful Girls is to promote strong, healthy and resilient females
August 30, 2017 12:00am
RECENTLY I was privileged to spend an evening of unbridled irreverence with a group of nine female friends celebrating a milestone birthday.
Apart from a couple of us “city kids”, the rest had grown up in regional areas, mostly on farms. That pretty much guaranteed there was no bulldust and certainly no precious behaviour.
Indeed, the evening was marked by powerful language, broad-ranging topics, intelligent insights and much hilarity.
Our conversations veered loosely from ribald to reverent.
We discussed death, dyslexia and ute musters. I heard about ophthalmology, dachshunds and living alone. We heard stories about each other that have never been shared previously.
I learnt that someone can claim they dislike kids, but still joyfully bear two, lovingly foster and adopt another and dutifully act as step-mum to two more.
It made me reappreciate the fun in sharing a laugh over a meal, the pleasure of listening and talking to people I’ve only heard about.
There was no personality conflict, no tension and absolutely no political correctness.
This night of revelry highlighted the power of friendship and the impact of conversations.
Given that all these women are confident, successful, independent and funny, it also reinforced for me the importance of self-esteem in females.
Today marks the launch of Pretty Powerful Girls.
This concept aims to educate parents and empower our girls, primarily through digital platform prettypowerfulgirls.com.au
The mission is to encourage young girls to understand themselves, know their strengths and learn how to combat the challenges in the world.
Surprisingly, being female doesn’t automatically mean having objective insight into the broader context of equality.
My eyes were opened to the unconscious bias in our society by an author whose book I edited six years ago.
Prior to that piece of work, I would describe myself as a fairly typical “sexist pig”.
As I worked on that exhaustively researched book, I slowly realised that many biases are carried unknowingly by many people. I was one of them.
And, once you’ve seen the bias, it’s impossible to unsee.
So, now, having the practical insight of actually being female and a relatively new awareness of the structural and cultural issues of equality, I’m particularly interested in how we can change things for the better.
The gender pay gap and family violence have been highlighted in the news again lately. Both are critical conversations that relate to women’s sense of value and self-esteem.
Depending on the media source, the argument over equal pay either focuses on how to address it or whether it’s real. Whatever a person’s belief, the reality is that when there’s no pay disparity there is greater freedom for both men and women.
On the topic of family violence, the facts are in. The conversation is now less about whether it exists but there is still much debate about what causes it. It’s a discussion that is vital for Australian children.
It can be daunting to talk about issues that affect women and girls.
There is often an immediate response of “What about men?” And we hear things about women acting like victims and women being their own worst enemies.
To this latter point, I saw a lovely quote, “Girls compete with each other, women empower each other. Just like boys and men.”
When anyone is prevented from reaching their potential it doesn’t serve the world. Empowering people to be their best can benefit everyone and this applies equally to males, females and everything in between.
For me, there is no question that the way our society is currently structured means women have a harder row to hoe. And, having worked closely with Dr Susan Alberti AC for the past year, I’ve seen first hand over and over the results of empowered women.
Just look at the AFLW to see something that works well for boys, men, girls and women.
Pretty Powerful Girls is supported by role models including our own world Ironwoman champion and Nutri-Grain Ironwoman champion Harriet Brown, who began her surf lifesaving career in Ocean Grove.
Snowboarding champ Torah Bright is another “Pretty Powerful Pro”, as is Paralympian Jess Gallagher and stuntwoman Ky Furneaux. There are more high-profile women in the wings who will emerge beyond the launch of prettypowerfulgirls.com.au
The objective of prettypowerfulgirls.com.au is to promote strong, healthy and resilient females and inspire young girls to understand themselves and their capabilities.
It’s about education and, most importantly, it’s about being brave enough to start conversations that matter.
— Stephanie Asher is a management consultant, professional writer and speaker. Twitter: @stephanieasher1