For other subjects, see Girl Power (disambiguation).
Girl power is a slogan that encourages and celebrates women's empowerment, independence, and confidence. The slogan's invention is credited to US punk band Bikini Kill, who published a zine called Girl Power in 1991.
Early usage and origins
In 1991, US punk band Bikini Kill published a feminist zine called Girl Power. The band's lead singer, Kathleen Hanna, said was inspired by the Black Power slogan. The term became popular in the early and mid 90s punk culture. The Rolling Stone Encyclopedia of Rock & Roll credits the zine with coining the slogan: "In their feminist fanzine Bikini Kill they articulated an agenda for young women in and outside of music; the band put those ideas to practice. (Ironically, the zine first coined the "girl power" slogan, later co-opted by England's bubblegum pop band the Spice Girls.) Bikini Kill earned a reputation in the punk underground for confronting certain standards of that genre; for example, asking people to slam at the side of the stage, so that women would not get pushed out of the front, and inviting women to take the mike and talk about sexual abuse."
The phrase is sometimes sensationally spelledgrrrl power, based on the spelling of riot grrrl.
Some other bands who have used the slogan in their music are Helen Love[further explanation needed] and pop-punk duo Shampoo, who released an album and single titled Girl Power in 1995.
Spice Girls and scholarship
British pop quintet Spice Girls popularized the slogan in the mid-1990s. In her 2002 book Girl Heroes: The New Force in Popular Culture, Professor Susan Hopkins suggests a correlation between girl power, Spice Girls, and female action heroes at the end of the 20th century.Geri Halliwell, a member of the Spice Girls, credited former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, a leading conservative, as the pioneer of their ideology of girl power.
Other scholars[weasel words] have also examined the slogan, often within the context of the academic field, for example Buffy studies. Media theorist Kathleen Rowe Karlyn in her article "Scream, Popular Culture, and Feminism's Third Wave: I'm Not My Mother" and Irene Karras in "The Third Wave's Final girl: Buffy the Vampire Slayer" suggest a link with third-wave feminism. Frances Early and Kathleen Kennedy in the introduction to Athena’s Daughters: Television’s New Women Warriors, discuss what they describe as a link between girl power and a "new" image of women warriors in popular culture.
Oxford English Dictionary
A 2001 update to the Oxford English Dictionary defined girl power as:
Power exercised girls; spec. a self-reliant attitude among girls and young women manifested in ambition, assertiveness, and individualism. Although also used more widely (esp. as a slogan), the term has been particularly and repeatedly associated with popular music; most notably in the early 1990s with the briefly prominent "riot grrrl" movement in the United States (cf. RIOT GIRL n.); then, in the late 1990s, with the British all-female group The Spice Girls.
The dictionary further offers an example of this term by quoting from "Angel Delight", an article in the March 24, 2001 issue of Dreamwatch about the television series Dark Angel:
After the Sarah Connors and Ellen Ripleys of the 1980s, the 1990s weren't so kind to the superwoman format—Xena Warrior Princess excepted. But it's a new 2000 millennium now, and while Charlie's Angels and Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon are kicking up a storm on movie screens, it's been down to James Cameron to bring empowered female warriors back to television screens. And tellingly, Cameron has done it by mixing the sober feminism of his Terminator and Aliens characters with the sexed-up girl power of a Britney Spears concert. The result is Dark Angel.
Dr. Debbie Ging, Chair of the BA in Communications Studies in Dublin City University, was critical of the "Girl power" ideals, and linked it to the sexualisation of younger children, girls in particular. Amy McClure of North Carolina State University warns against placing too much hope on girl power as an empowering concept. She says, “An ideology based on consumerism can never be a revolutionary social movement. The fact that it appears to be a revolutionary movement is a dangerous lie that not only marketers sell to us but that we often happily sell to ourselves.” Media can sometimes present a narrow definition of what it means to be a girl today. One common example being popular toys such Mattel's Barbie. The recent “I can be” Barbie embodies this concept of “girl power”: that little girls can be anything they want when they grow up. Arguably, Barbie's image may also present narrowed options with which girls can identify. Hannah Jane Parkinson of The Guardian criticized the term as something "young women [that] are feeling more confident about calling themselves feminists and standing up for principles of equality" hide behind and denounced it for including the word "girl", claiming it promoted the calling of adult women as girls.
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- ^"The Third Wave's Final girl: Buffy the Vampire Slayer"Archived June 20, 2005, at the Wayback Machine.
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- ^"OED:Girl power". Oxford English Dictionary. Retrieved 2012-09-30.
- ^E y e s <-> <-> O n l yArchived 2008-01-05 at the Wayback Machine.
- ^Ging, Debbie. "Girl Power" doesn’t empower: why it’s time for an honest debate about the sexualisation of children in Ireland July 2007.
- ^Archived January 31, 2008, at the Wayback Machine.
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- ^Hannah Jane Parkinson (8 July 2015). "Stop calling women 'girls'. It's either patronising or sexually suggestive". The Guardian. Retrieved 25 November 2016.
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- Hopkins, Susan (2002). Girl Heroes: The New Force in Popular Culture. Australia: Pluto Press. ISBN 9781864031577
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Women's empowerment has become a significant topic of discussion in development and economics. It can also point to the approaches regarding other trivialized genders in a particular political or social context.
Women's economic empowerment refers to the ability for women to enjoy their right to control and benefit from resources, assets, income and their own time, as well as the ability to manage risk and improve their economic status and well being.
While often interchangeably used, the more comprehensive concept of gender empowerment refers to people of any gender, stressing the distinction between biological and gender as a role. It thereby also refers to other marginalized genders in a particular political or social context.
Methods which help to empower women
Land rights offer a key way to economically empower women, giving them the confidence they need to tackle gender inequalities. Often, women in developing and underdeveloped nations are legally restricted from their land on the sole basis of gender. Having a right to their land gives women a sort of bargaining power that they wouldn't normally have; in turn, they gain the ability to assert themselves in various aspects of their life, both in and outside of the home. In rural areas, women are not at all supported for education.
When women has monetary power it is a way for others to see them as equal members of society. Through this, they achieve more self-respect and confidence by their contributions to their communities. Simply including women as a part of a community can have sweeping positive effects. In a study conducted by Bina Agarwal, women were given a place in a forest conservation group. This drove up the efficiency of the group, and the women gained self-esteem while others, including men, viewed them with more respect.
Participation, which can be seen and gained in a variety of ways, has been argued to be the most beneficial form of gender empowerment. Political participation, be it the ability to vote and voice opinions, or the ability to run for office with a fair chance of being elected, plays a huge role in the empowerment of women. However, participation is not limited to the realm of politics. It can include participation in the household, in schools, and the ability to make choices for oneself. It can be said that this latter participation need to be achieved before one can move onto broader political participation. When women have the agency to do what they want, a higher equality between men and women is established.
It is argued that microcredit also offers a way to provide empowerment for women. There are many Governments, organizations, and individuals which support women financially. They hope that lending money and credit allows women to function in business and society, which in turn empowers them to do more in their communities. One of the primary goals in the foundation of microfinance was women empowerment. Loans with low interest rates are given to women in developing communities in hopes that they can start a small business and provide for their families. It should be said, however, that the success and efficiency of microcredit and microloans is controversial and constantly debated.
The role of education
Improving education for women helps raise their levels of health and nutrition and reduces fertility rates. Education increases "people's self- confidence and enables them to find better jobs, engage in public debate and make demands on government for health care, social security and other entitlements". In particular, education empowers women to make choices that improve their own and their children's health and chances of survival. Education helps to prevent and contain disease, and is an essential element of efforts to reduce malnutrition. Further, education empowers women to make choices that improve their welfare, including marrying later and having fewer children. Crucially, education also increases women's awareness of their human rights their confidence and their actual ability to assert those rights.
Despite significant improvements in recent decades, education is not universally available and gender inequalities persist. A major concern in many countries is not only limited numbers of girls going to school, but also limited educational pathways for those that step into the classroom. This includes, more specifically, how to address the lower participation and learning achievement of girls in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education.
The Internet as a tool of empowerment
The growing access of the web in the late 20th century has allowed women to empower themselves by using various tools on the Internet. With the introduction of the World Wide Web, women have begun to use social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter for online activism. Through online activism, women are able to empower themselves by organizing campaigns and voicing their opinions for equality rights without feeling oppressed by members of society. For example, on May 29, 2013, an online campaign started by 100 female advocates forced the leading social networking website, Facebook, to take down various pages that spread hatred about women.
In recent years, blogging has also become a powerful tool for the educational empowerment of women. According to a study done by the University of California, Los Angeles, medical patients who read and write about their disease are often in a much happier mood and more knowledgeable than those who do not. By reading others' experiences, patients can better educate themselves and apply strategies that their fellow bloggers suggest.
With the easy accessibility and affordability of e-learning (electronic learning), women can now study from the comfort of their homes. By empowering themselves educationally through new technologies like e-learning, women are also learning new skills that will come in handy in today's advancing globalized world.
Many of the barriers to women's empowerment and equity lie ingrained in cultural norms. Many women feel these pressures, while others have become accustomed to being treated inferior to men. Even if men, legislators, NGOs, etc. are aware of the benefits women's empowerment and participation can have, many are scared of disrupting the status quo and continue to let societal norms get in the way of development.
Research shows that the increasing access to the internet can also result in an increased exploitation of women. Releasing personal information on websites has put some women's personal safety at risk. In 2010, Working to Halt Online Abuse stated that 73% of women were victimized through such sites. Types of victimization include cyber stalking, harassment, online pornography, and flaming.Sexual harassment in particular is a large barrier for women in the workplace. It appears in almost all industries, but is most notable in the following: business, trade, banking and finance, sales and marketing, hospitality, civil service, and education, lecturing and teaching. According to the International Labour Organisation (ILO), sexual harassment is a clear form of gender discrimination based on sex, a manifestation of unequal power relations between men and women. Furthermore, the UN Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) is urging for increased measures of protection for women against sexual harassment and violence in the workplace. 54% (272) had experienced some form of workplace sexual harassment. 79% of the victims are women; 21% were men.
Recent studies also show that women face more barriers in the workplace than do men. Gender-related barriers involve sexual harassment, unfair hiring practices, career progression, and unequal pay where women are paid less than men are for performing the same job. When taking the median earnings of men and women who worked full-time, year-round, government data from 2014 showed that women made $0.79 for every dollar a man earned. The average earnings for working mothers came out to even less—$0.71 for every dollar a father made, according to a 2014 study conducted by the National Partnership for Women and Children. While much of the public discussion of the "wage gap" has focused around women getting equal pay for the same work as their male peers, many women struggle with what is called the "pregnancy penalty". The main problem is that it is difficult to measure, but some experts say that the possibility of having a baby can be enough for employers to push women back from their line. Therefore, women are put in a position where they need to make the decision of whether to maintain in the workforce or have children. This problem has sparked the debate over maternity leave in the United States.
However, despite the struggle for equal pay in the United States, the tech industry[clarification needed] has made progress in helping to encourage equal pay across gender. In March 2016, tech career website Dice released a study of more than 16,000 tech professionals that found that when you compare equivalent education, experience and position, there is no pay gap—and hasn't been for the last six years. This new industry is paving a way for other companies to do the same. However, this industry also struggles to employ women in executive positions. This is partially due to the barrier of sexual harassment and pregnancy that was aforementioned.
Such barriers make it difficult for women to advance in their workplace or receive fair compensation for the work they provide.
Women empowerment can be measured through the Gender Empowerment Measure (GEM), which shows women's participation in a given nation, both politically and economically. GEM is calculated by tracking "the share of seats in parliament held by women; of female legislators, senior officials and managers; and of female profession and technical workers; and the gender disparity in earned income, reflecting economic independence". It then ranks countries given this information. Other measures that take into account the importance of female participation and equality include: the Gender Parity Index and the Gender-related Development Index (GDI).
Importance of women's empowerment in societies
Entire nations, businesses, communities and groups can benefit from the implementation of programs and policies that adopt the notion of women empowerment. Empowerment of women is a necessity for the very development of a society, since it enhances both the quality and the quantity of human resources available for development.Empowerment is one of the main procedural concerns when addressing human rights and development. The Human Development and Capabilities Approach, the Millennium Development Goals, and other credible approaches/goals point to empowerment and participation as a necessary step if a country is to overcome the obstacles associated with poverty and development.
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