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INTERNATIONAL WOMEN’S DAY: Young women making a difference

The Duke of Edinburgh’s International Award Barbados

INTERNATIONAL WOMEN’S DAY: Young women making a difference

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Today, International Women’s Day, the largest international youth achievement programme, The Duke of Edinburgh’s International Award is calling attention to non-formal education and how through its activities, it is giving girls all over the world a balanced playing field.

International Women’s Day comes after the worldwide launch of the Award’s #WORLDREADY campaign where more than 10 000 young people from over 150 countries and territories were asked to give their perspective on today’s world – and 75 per cent of young women surveyed believe that being ready for the world takes more than classroom learning.

In Barbados, there are approximately 170 young women participating in the programme, where research has indicated that as they work through the Award’s requirements, they are better equipped for life ahead and more engaged with their community. We are seeing this empowerment first-hand, as nearly three quarters of young Bajan women surveyed feel confident standing up for what they believe in, and similarly almost three quarters feel confident speaking out against something they believe is wrong.

Gold Award holder and now leader in the Award, Shonee Howell sees the Award as a balancing feature for the island’s girls: “Girls have the opportunity to learn new skills and challenge themselves outside of the gender socialisation that dictates what is expected of a female. Though skills such as cooking are important and encouraged in the Award, the responsibility is shared equally with their male counterparts as they work together as a unit. I believe it gives girls the chance to realise they are as resilient and capable as they want to be.”

“In today’s social climate, the Award’s impact for girls in particular is especially empowering. I know for myself, as I did each level, I was able to look back and feel confident that I could conquer something new.  Self-confidence is a major part of self-worth as a young girl, especially while maturing and facing peer pressure heading into adulthood,” said Carla Alleyne, Operations Manager at the Award.

The Duke of Edinburgh’s International Award challenges young people to develop new skills, get physically active, learn about teamwork and leadership through adventurous journey and volunteer within their community. The Duke of Edinburgh’s International Award Barbados encourages young women to step outside their comfort zones and in doing so, develop universal skills – such as resilience, confidence and adaptability – to help ensure that not only are they ready for the world but that the world is a better place for it.

International Women’s Day is a global day celebrating the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women – while also marking a call to action for accelerating gender balance. The race is on for the gender-balanced boardroom, a gender-balanced government, gender-balanced media coverage, a gender-balance of employees, more gender-balance in wealth, and even gender-balanced sports coverage. (PR)