Thousands of girls across the globe will be stepping into the shoes of leaders in the fields of media, entertainment, business and politics on 11 October to demand girls and young women are portrayed as equally powerful as men.
60 countries, over 1,300 takeovers
We all see far too few women depicted in powerful leadership roles in the media that surrounds us. That sends a damaging signal to girls that they should not aspire to lead. This has to change.
More than 1,300 girls’ “takeovers” are being facilitated in more than 60 countries by child rights organisation Plan International to mark International Day of the Girl. They are asking for radical change in the portrayal of girls and young women in films and entertainment, textbooks, advertising, in video games and all forms of communication.
Senior executives from YouTube, Universal Music and ABC Network; an American national news anchor; and teachers at the Australian Film, TV & Radio School are just some of the influential leaders of the media and entertainment industry who will cede their power for the day as part of the #GirlsTakeover.
Anne-Birgitte Albrectsen, CEO of Plan International, said:
“We all see far too few women depicted in powerful leadership roles in the media that surrounds us. That sends a damaging signal to girls that they should not aspire to lead. This has to change.”
The global #GirlsTakeover action comes in response to recent research from Plan International and the Geena Davis Institute of Gender in Media which revealed that the world’s most popular films are sending the message to girls and young women that leadership is mostly for men, with women leaders portrayed as sex objects, shown in revealing clothing or even naked on the big screen.
Calling for equal representation in the media
By participating in the takeovers, girls will stand alongside Plan International in calling on content producers – from filmmakers and advertisers to publishers and broadcasters – to create material which upholds girls and young women’s rights, rather than undermining them.
Other international luminaries who will be “taken over” for the day include the Presidents of Timor Leste and Paraguay, the Prime Minister of Guinea-Bissau and the Danish Crown Princess.
Challenging traditional gender norms
Alisha, 20, from the US, who took over the role of Vicki Dummer, Head of Network Current Programming at ABC Network, said: "Growing up with very few strong female protagonists in television to look up to, I was excited to see a character like Dex Parios, the protagonist of Stumptown [an American crime drama series], being created to be assertive and unapologetic, which challenges traditional gender roles and norms.”
Together we can tear down the barriers of discrimination and prejudice that hold girls back
In Kenya, the country’s premier television station Citizen TV broadcast a 90-minute programme on which Plan International youth activists called for an end to the sexualisation and objectification of women and girls on screen, while in Australia, youth activists guest-edited the opinion pages of one of the nation’s most-read newspapers, The Age, using the opportunity to commission diverse young women writers.
Jeffrey Remedios, CEO of Universal Music Canada, who stepped aside for the day for 16-year-old Raphaelle, said:
“Participating in this year’s #GirlsTakeover was both an inspiring experience for me personally and a poignant reminder to all of us at Universal Music Canada that we must continue to advance gender equality in the music business. It’s up to all of us in the entertainment industry to build inclusive, balanced cultures so that girls today see themselves as the leaders of tomorrow.”
“Girls are taking over this International Day of the Girl because they want real stories of their power and activism to be shared,” said Ms Albrectsen. “Together we can tear down the barriers of discrimination and prejudice that hold girls back and appeal to content producers to inspire more positive attitudes and behaviours towards girls and young women so that #GirlsGetEqual.”