Girls deserve equality. Empowerment. The opportunity to fulfil their potential. And International Day of the Girl on Friday 11 October aims to highlight the challenges they face in claiming those rights.
Two of our biggest brands – Sunsilk and Dove – are marking the event. They’re using their global reach to shatter outdated stereotypes about girls’ abilities and ambitions and teach girls the power of strong self-esteem.
They’ve also got some brilliant role models on board: young women who have spoken out, broken boundaries and are determined to help others do the same. Read on to find out more about them.
Opening up possibilities for girls everywhere
Hair brand Sunsilk is on a mission to inspire girls to dream of a future full of possibility, unlimited by what society says they should or can’t do.
The brand has teamed up with the International Center for Research on Women to publish a white paper which underlines the global challenges girls and young women are facing and what Sunsilk is doing to help.
Sunsilk’s Explore More! education programme in Thailand and Pakistan, in partnership with NGO Girl Rising, visits girls in schools, equipping them with the skills to identify their strengths, re-imagine their goals, and exercise agency to achieve them. In 2020 the Explore More! programme will be expanded to schools in Argentina, the Philippines, Indonesia and Vietnam with the aim of reaching 50,000 more students.
Sunsilk is also using digital platforms to make an impact. Its #Juntasarrasamos app in Brazil (it means ‘Together We Rock’ in Portuguese) is a thriving interactive platform where girls can explore inspirational content by real-life role models and take part in games and quizzes that help develop their skill sets. To date the app has already reached more than 350,000 girls.
The brand’s ads and campaigns are reaching millions of young women with positive messages too. Across the globe, Sunsilk ads showcase female role models who go beyond social conventions to excel in their dreams. In time for International Day of the Girl, Sunsilk has launched its Rethink Pink campaign in Argentina. It celebrates what ‘Pink’ means – standing for possibilities instead of limitations, and features key role models such as Argentinian professional footballer Maca Sanchez.
Meet some of the brilliant young women supporting Sunsilk’s campaigns below.
Building self-esteem worldwide
Since 2004, the Dove Self-Esteem Project has helped bring body confidence and self-esteem education to more than 35 million young people globally. It’s on track to reach 40 million by the end of 2020, as the world’s largest provider of self-esteem and body confidence programming.
It’s making this massive impact through educational tools delivered in partnership with schools, youth organisations, parents and mentors. Having low body confidence and self-esteem holds young girls back. These tools ensure the next generation can grow up to enjoy a positive relationship with the way they look, which has a positive impact on their wellbeing and happiness.
Dove Day, which coincides with the International Day of the Girl, is an annual event where Unilever employees all over the world have a chance to get involved in the brand’s social mission. 2019 marks the seventh year running that they have been invited to volunteer their time to experience the impact of the Dove Self-Esteem Project first hand by helping to run workshops in local schools.
This year, employees from more than 30 different countries are taking part, facilitating workshops to reach more than 20,000 young people. In London and South-East England alone, more than 180 employees and agency partners are visiting seven schools to conduct 60 workshops for 1,600 students over two days.
The Dove Self-Esteem Project’s Free Being Me partnership with the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts (WAGGGS) is also reaching millions of girls with self-esteem and body confidence education, and inspiring young women to have their voices heard. Since 2013, ‘Free Being Me’ has reached 6 million young people in 128 countries.
In 2017, WAGGGS and Dove launched a new Action on Body Confidence badge. Girl Guides and Girl Scouts can earn the badge by addressing the issue of body confidence in their communities. They’re encouraged to use their advocacy skills to share their knowledge on the issue, show they refuse to be defined by their looks, and inspire girls around them with their passion.
Read about some of their experiences below.
The role models inspiring girls globally
Sunsilk ambassador Rabika is a software developer, based in Pakistan.
In a country where only 14% of women work in tech, Rabika is one of few women who has been able to make it her career. She and her best friend were the only girls to enrol onto the computer science programme at university.
With the support of their families, and one another, they have defied social expectations, receiving the highest grades in the year and winning an award for their final project.
Ashley is Senior Brand Manager for Unilever brands Love Beauty & Planet and Nexxus, based in Toronto, Canada.
“I helped to organise Dove Day 2018 for Canada and participated in workshops at two schools that day.
“It was a wonderful experience to go out and spend time with young people and help guide them through the challenges that self-esteem and body confidence can cause.
“Children are very smart and are full of confidence at a young age, but over time that fades and this is something I don’t want to see happen. I believe it’s so important to try to keep that childhood confidence alive.
“There are too many sources of pressure and anxiety that young women can face today. Unless she has people in her life supporting her and helping to build up her self-esteem it can be very easy for a girl to succumb to the pressures.”
Mallu joined a World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts delegation to visit London. Supported by Dove, girls had the chance to attend workshops designed to boost body confidence and communication skills.
“I’ve learned to believe more in myself, to be proud of me.
“You have to like yourself and see your importance. You have to smile when you see yourself in the mirror. And only you can make other people see it. Realise it.
“Now more than ever I want to help other people think about it. I am sure that our little steps make big differences.
“I have care and love for me that I didn’t have before.”
Mendy Indigo, Thailand
Sunsilk role model Mendy is a professional DJ, hailed as Thailand’s Techno Queen. She’s played to crowds all over the world.
In an industry where only 17% of DJ headliners are women – Mendy has definitely defied the odds. She worked hard to achieve her dream – believing in the power of music to unite people.
Mendy credits her mother and girlfriends for encouraging her through thick and thin. She says they always supported her, right from the start.
*Photo by IsoPixel for Latitudes Magazine
Girl Scout Angeli is an advocate of the Free Being Me programme.
“I was 14 when I first attended a Dove self-esteem session in a national Girl Scout camp. I was able to confront insecurities and fears in my own body. The confidence that I gained helped me find that capacity to lead young people in my community as a government official.
“We went on to train adults and young women to share Free Being Me and in the last three years we reached more than 600,000 girls in the Philippines.
“Cultural change is a big challenge to overcome but for a girl who believes in herself, there ain’t no mountain high enough. Imagine millions of girls believe that they can make the world a better place to live, regardless of their size, race or colour. A future where girls and women can reach their full potential.”
Maca is a professional footballer, currently signed to San Lorenzo.
In a country where football is extremely male dominated and often sexist, Maca stands up for women’s rights in sport.
As a professional Argentinean football player, she uses her platform to speak out about work conditions for women within the sports industry, and questions the huge gap between men and women in terms of salary.
Laura is a lead volunteer of a Girl Guiding peer education programme and helped deliver Dove’s Free Being Me training to hundreds of girls in the UK and Ireland.
“For years I’ve wanted to make the lives of girls and young women better, allowing them to be who they truly are and with confidence to achieve.
“Creating a body confident society requires all to get on board – body confidence won’t succeed without you. Voice what you love about your body, the great things it can do, the unique aspects which make you, you. If we don’t act together, low self-esteem will continue to cripple society and no one will achieve what they are capable of.
“With confidence, passion and persistence I’m going to try to make that change help others be who they truly are. If you don’t change the world, who will? Don’t leave it to chance that the world will turn out the way you want. Take action. Create motion. Change the world.”
Karis, Hong Kong
Karis is a long-term member of Girl Guiding and a peer educator for Dove’s Free Being Me programme in Hong Kong.
“Girl Guides aims to help girls to develop their talents and build up their self-confidence. Building up their body confidence is one of the ways to improve their confidence overall. When girls have body confidence, they show their talents and try new things. They develop their unique personality.
“Having body confidence can help girls to live their own way, free from the culture of ‘Beauty = Confidence’ built by society.
“Free Being Me changed my mind – and I now know that beauty is not measured by the person’s appearance. A girl looks beautiful because of her confidence. When a girl is showing her confidence, she looks unique.”
Photo of DJ Mendy Indigo by IsoPixel for Latitudes Magazine