Highlighting challenges faced by girls

  • Carolyn Thomas Ray, organiser of the Island's first 'International Day of the Girl' event, being held on Sunday

    Carolyn Thomas Ray, organiser of the Island's first 'International Day of the Girl' event, being held on Sunday


Women only hold 15.7 per cent of top leadership positions in Fortune 500 companies.

This statistic is being highlighted by activists involved in the ‘Day of the Girl’, a global movement raising awareness about the many inequalities females face.

While this imbalance is not the most shocking of the figures released, it is one that will perhaps be more relevant to girls and women in Bermuda.

The Island’s first International Day of the Girl event is due to take place on Sunday at the National Sports Centre.

Organiser Carolyn Thomas Ray said: “The day was earmarked by the UN in 2012 to recognise the challenges facing girls globally, mainly as the largest demographic that suffers from poverty. It is for girls only, of all ages, and free.”

The event will run from 2pm to 5pm and participants are encouraged to don activewear.

“There are two goals for the Bermuda event,” Ms Thomas Ray said. “The first objective is to raise awareness of issues facing girls internationally, such as forced marriage, child marriage and fewer educational opportunities, and also more localised issues here in Bermuda, such as bullying, early sexualisation, sexual abuse and what is known as the ‘pinkification’ of girls.

“The other is to expose Bermuda’s girls to activities they may not have much exposure to, either because they simply haven’t given them a go or they think they are for boys.”

Football, cricket, golf, archery and rugby coaches will run skills corners, while ‘The Royal Gazette’s’ fitness columnist, Betty Doyling, will set up age-appropriate obstacle courses.

There will also be coding and robotics corners to get more girls interested in science, technology, maths and engineering (Stem) fields.

Toddlers and preschoolers can participate in a “bubbles and builders” station that will encourage problem-solving and engineering in play.

Ms Thomas Ray added: “The day is for all girls ­— toddlers to 17 years — and will celebrate what it means to be a girl in a supportive way.”

There is a global focus on getting more girls and women interested in Stem fields, but activists and mothers such as Ms Thomas Ray say they are still fighting against a culture fraught with sexism.

The message is for girls to understand how they can contribute to change within their economy and change their futures.

“There are particular challenges to girls, a lot of them affect all countries, but the majority affect developing countries,” Ms Thomas Ray said. “Cultural things like forced marriage, child marriage. We don’t have that issue here in Bermuda, but it’s a global issue.

“I’d like girls to be inspired here to learn more about the issues facing other girls around the world to try to do something about it and make changes.

“For every year a girls stays in education her income rises by 20 per cent.

“There will be information booths manned and supported by students, the Women’s Resource Centre, which is a great resource for parents to discuss how to help girls navigate social pressures, and Scars.

“We’ve had great support. Everyone I’ve asked to teach or lead an activity, to volunteer their time, has agreed to do that.”

Bermuda’s Brazilian Football School and the Bermuda Cricket Board are sponsoring the event.

“It’s a girls-only event but the boys are welcome to volunteer and help, if they want,” Ms Thomas Ray said.

“I want to ensure that dads also feel that they are encouraged to come with their daughters. We would love to see dads there with their daughters because all of the issues that affect girls will be things that fathers will need to know about.

“We want to inspire girls to learn, to try new things, and to make a change in the world. A few ways that change can be done is to fundraise to sponsor a girl’s school fees in a developing country, join media campaigns to pressure governments to protect girls better, and to start a girls club at school.”

• To attend or volunteer, visit the Facebook page, International Day of the Girl — Bermuda.

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Published Oct 7, 2015 at 8:00 am (Updated Oct 7, 2015 at 3:33 pm)

Highlighting challenges faced by girls

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