Imagine that life is a role-play game where the plot develops as a result of the decisions you have made and the puzzles you have solved.
So how could you win this game? What happens if someone starts interfering and making the decisions for you? Is it still your game, and are you really playing it?
Barriers to the individual are barriers to progress
Prejudice, stigma, discrimination, pressure and many more social forces are barriers that lots of people face in the game called Life. Gender role is a maze that girls in particular are often trapped in. Though gender roles vary significantly around the world, they are often demanding and oppressive. Whether they involve the pressure to become a housewife, to have many children, or to starve just to get into a 0-sized dress, they can deprive women of a major human right: to enjoy being who you truly are.
Women all around the world need equal rights, freedom of choice and universal access to services, especially the ones related to sexual and reproductive health. But in order for all of those components to really work, women also need to overcome the self-stigma and the barriers they set themselves. Finding your true identity and being able to express feelings and opinions is at the very basis of making a difference.
Expression as solution
Women play a significant role in solving every social, economic and environmental issue. Aware of the pressures women face and passionate about sexual and reproductive health and rights of young girls and women, YSAFE (Youth Sexual Awareness for Europe) launched a project called I ♥ Being a Girl. It aims to empower and inspire women around the world by promoting self-esteem and presenting a positive view on sexuality and equality in diversity.
During the 2010 World Aids Conference the YSFAE team collected video testimonials of young girls and women sharing personal stories, aspirations, views on everyday issues and reflections on their sexuality. Being able to express yourself and therefore identify is strongly related to having confidence to make your own choices. That is why open discussions on those issues are of paramount importance to empowering women, giving them the key to solve the puzzle called Life.
I am glad to share that we managed to break some stereotypes as well. Young women are obviously not as confused and helpless as they are often portrayed. On the contrary, many have clear goals and lots of enthusiasm to achieve them. Strong feminists are not necessarily business professionals, but average women as well, happily admitting that their greatest joy and priority is their family. Boys did not only support us, but also participated by promoting and sharing why they admire women in their lives.
We truly hope that with your input we will manage to show how diverse and amazing girls truly are. The I ♥ Being a Girl film is still being cooked up in the YSAFE factory, but you can participate in the project and the solution by sharing with us your video, comments, links, opinions or anything that has inspired you.
Here are some of the questions that we’d like you to think about:
I am 19 years old and I am a young volunteer for IPPF. I have been volunteering for the Bulgarian Family Planning Association for more than five years now and since 2009 I am also part of the European Youth Network of IPPF called YSAFE (Youth Sexual Awareness For Europe). Through my participation, I have gained significant experience in peer-to-peer education, advocacy in the field of SRHR and project writing. In July 2010, I was an IPPF delegate at the 2010 World AIDS Conference held in Vienna.