Fight For Girls, Not Against Them

It feels like just yesterday I was huddled outside my school classroom with five other pigtailed girls, swapping cards or singing along to good old Gwen Stefani. (Shoutout to Gwen for being my fashion inspiration and role model for pretty much my entire childhood.)

Female friendships start off as innocent, symbiotic relationships. As little girls, we seemingly have no worries and – if your childhood was anything like mine – days are filled with endless dress-up parties, goofy sing-alongs and formidable-fort-building. But at what point do we blur the lines and turn these innocent relationships into carnivorous competitions?

Welcome to the world of female competitiveness, where beneath the sisterly front runs an undercurrent of tough rivalry.

I think one of the reasons some of us fight so hard for women’s empowerment among women is because of personal experience of competition and backlash from fellow women. Unfortunately, it is all too easy to be sucked in – especially for young women. You may not even realize it’s happening, as it begins very subtly throughout teenage years. Whether it’s someone degrading you in front of others, talking about you negatively behind your back, trying to delay your success in order to accelerate their own, or doing something to make you look bad on purpose – you are a victim. It’s like a competition you never signed up for and didn’t agree to take part in – but the good news is, you don’t have to be part of it.

RULE NUMBER ONE: Don’t let negativity take over your teenage years – I can’t stress this enough! There are far more important issues that need your valuable time and attention. People who want to succeed by seeing you fail just have selfish motives – it’s their problem – not yours. It’s easier said than done, but try to focus your attention on yourself rather than worry too much about what others are doing.

RULE NUMBER TWO: Whether or not you’ve ever been guilty of any of the above (most of us have, even if we weren’t aware of it at the time), it’s the responsibility of all women and girls to focus on empowering & uplifting each other. It’s such an important skill to be able to admit to our own mistakes and then actively try to change our behaviour. Don’t let pride prevent you from growing.

One question I’ve been thinking a lot about is whether we are actually competing with other women or, ultimately, with ourselves – with how we think of and perceive ourselves. For many of us, we look at other women and see a ‘better’, smarter or prettier version of ourselves. Do we even acknowledge the other woman as an individual? It’s like a mirror that reflects an inaccurate version of who we are, but we turn on the mirror itself because it’s easier than exploring the real insecurities behind the reflection we see. And so…

RULE NUMBER 3: You are enough. Don’t let anything or anyone make you believe otherwise. You don’t need recognition from others to believe it. You don’t need to pull other women down to believe it either. When we each focus on being the dominant force in our own universe, rather than invading other universes, we all win.

As women, we experience enough unfair competition, backlash and discrimination in our lives. We certainly should not experience it from fellow women, too. We are here to support, appreciate and encourage each other.

Our fight should be for, not against one another.

GenH Challenge: Submit your Ideas

In recognition of the impact midwives are creating across the world, Johnson & Johnson has launched a new initiative – the GenH Challenge. Midwives are everyday pioneers of ingenuity, although many might not realise it, or feel particularly comfortable referring to themselves in such a way! This exciting opportunity hopes to encourage midwives to see themselves as innovators with the power to help to create the healthiest generation in human history – “GenH”.

The GenH Challenge is looking to discover brand new ideas from the front lines of care that can change the trajectory of health. If this sounds daunting, don’t worry! The competition welcomes ideas in their earliest stages, and it welcomes small ideas that have the potential to create great impact.

The initiative launched on 19 June 2017 at the 31st Triennial ICM Congress, with midwives coming together with Johnson & Johnson’s GenH Challenge team to talk about what human-centred design really means in an interactive workshop. Human-centred design, the J&J team explained, is one of those terms that many people find off-putting, as it sounds a little like jargon, but it simply means designing everything we do with the person we’re trying to serve at the heart of it all. It is putting a human being first and doing everything else from there. It is what most midwives are doing every single day from the moment they arrive at work.

Midwives have always, by the very nature of what they do, exemplified human centred design. When an expecting mother comes to a midwife with a question or a worry, the midwife focuses on the human in front of them. The GenH Challenge is therefore an opportunity for midwives to be supported in what they already do, day in and day out, and to connect those at the front lines of care with the resources they need to make the greatest impact possible.

So perhaps it’s time to ask yourself: what can I affect? What problems do I see, and what can I make better? If you’re starting to think of an idea, or even a seed of an idea, Girls’ Globe encourages you wholeheartedly to register, and to submit your application. Nobody else can see the world through your eyes, nobody else can speak up with your voice, and so your unique ideas really do matter!

Applications from anywhere in the world are eligible, and so long as your team includes someone who works at the front lines of care, any for-profit or non-profit organizations can apply. The only other rules are that your idea must have received under $250,000 in funding or been in development for 5 years or under.

You can apply any time until 4 October 2017. Full guidelines are available at www.genhchallenge.com.

Even if you don’t currently think of yourself as an innovator, you truly can be a pioneer of ingenuity by taking part in this exciting opportunity. This is your chance to transform midwifery for the future. Good luck!

Announcing the Winner of the People’s Choice Award!

Girls’ Globe is delighted to announce the winner of the very first People’s Choice Award in K4Health‘s annual Photoshare competition!

Congratulations go to Segawa Patrick and his team at Public Health Ambassadors Uganda (PHAU) for receiving the highest number of public votes in the category of Sexual and Reproductive Health. Today, Menstrual Hygiene Day 2017, is the perfect day to share their brilliant winning photograph.

PHAU shared the inspiration behind the photo:

“Our source of inspiration comes from the fact that many adolescent girls miss school and others drop out of school due to lack of sanitary commodities. It’s for this reason that we launched a campaign called “Ensonga” (meaning “the issue”) which aims to improve menstrual hygiene management within schools in Uganda.”

And we asked voters to tell us why they chose this image as the winner:

“Stigma around menstrual hygiene wreaks havoc on girls’ education opportunities around the world in a way that most people in higher-income countries are not aware of. I think this photograph highlights serious menstrual hygiene issues in a fun and lighthearted way (and I love the faces, colors, and composition, as well).”

“Menstruation keeps many young women from attending school each month for several reasons including lack of proper materials for personal care as well as insufficient amenities at schools. Women should not have to sacrifice education because of menstruation, so I like that this image brings awareness to the issue!”

“I think menstrual stigma is a crucial issue that needs more discussion and awareness. It is a shame that girls have to miss school and be embarrassed for going through menstruation, which is a normal part of being a female.”

“It is an original picture. It captures an unexpected moment of an important and seldom talked about issue, while at the same time transmitting a lot of joy.”

To learn more about Public Health Ambassadors and their Ensonga campaign, you can find them on Facebook, Twitter and Vimeo.