Stand Strong Girls

Archive for the tag “children”

Room to Read

I recently heard about Room to Read, an organisation that works with communities and governments in Asia and Africa to run literacy programmes.  Room to Read operates in 10 countries in Africa and Asia. It builds libraries and schools, hiring local contractors and teachers. In this way money is put back into the community.

Room to Read

Room to Read logo

Room to Read also works with girls at secondary school level to help them reach their full potential. It provides mentors, workshops and camps to help girls in school. Room to Read helps girls who are moving from primary to secondary school as this is when most drop out happen. There are so many long-term advantages to girls’ education. Women often raise healthier families, earn higher wages and teach their own children.

I looked at Room to Read’s work in India, as one of the World Wide Women pages is about it. In India, Room to Read are mostly building libraries. Girls’ education is a large part of its work there, as there is still gender disparity in education. Although all children are entitled to free education in India, many girls drop out before finishing.

Room to Read sounds like a wonderful programme that is making a lot of difference and I hope it will continue its work for a long time.



The Mysterious Benedict Society

The Mysterious Benedict Society is a book about four children (two boys and two girls) on a very unusual secret mission. However, the plot is not my main interest in this article, it is one of the characters that this post is really about.

Kate Wetherall is probably the most independent and resourceful female character I have ever found in a book. Able to calculate weights and distances by just looking, she was also in the circus and therefore is very agile and athletic. She carries a most unusual piece of equipment with her everywhere she goes. Her bucket is her prized possession and is full of useful and practical items such as a torch, glue, a knife, rope and a very well disguised spy-glass.

It is interesting to see such a capable and bold female character as Kate. She is independent and used to working on her own but adapts well to a team and her amazing cheerfulness, even in a crisis, is well-known. I would say that Kate is one of the best characters I have ever journeyed into a book with and that in real life she would make an excellent role model for girls who wish to step outside the limiting box of fashion and make-up.

For anyone who is interested in reading The Mysterious Benedict Society, the author is Trenton Lee Stewart and it is published by Chicken House (


Pinkstinks is a campaign aimed at changing companies’ and people’s opinions and attitude towards young girls. On the website there is a blog, an online shop and articles on their campaigns. Pinkstinks’ motto is ‘there is more than one way to be girl‘. If you are interested in the topics that this blog covers you might like to have  a look at their website.

Here is the video that is on their homepage:

Pink yoghurt!

A pink Muller yoghurt

A pink Muller yoghurt

Pink yoghurt has come to the supermarket shelves. It has been created by Muller as part of their new children’s range. The packaging is patterned with hearts, pink hearts.

My question to you is this: what do think is the aim behind this type of packaging? On the Muller website there is a statement from a spokesperson saying that these yoghurts have been designed purely for children. What then is the thinking behind the packaging?

To aid your thinking here is another fact. In the same range (Kids Corner) there are packets of ‘Football’ corner yoghurts with football packaging. Is there a sexist issue here or is it just a coincidence? Decide for yourself, and please put your opinions up as comments, I’d really like to know other people’s opinions.

The ‘pink and blue effect’ on young children

Vtech 'KidiWatch'. This toy is not advertised as being for a specific gender.

Vtech ‘KidiWatch’

A Vtech 'KidiWatch'. This product is advertised on the Hamleys website as being for girls

Vtech ‘KidiWatch’ Girl

During my visit to Hamleys I was particularly shocked by the section for babies and young children. A large portion of this section was taken up with electric gadgets for young children. These gadgets are versions of laptops, watches, tablets etc with games on them to encourage the learning of letters, numbers, colours and other things like that. A lot of the gadgets like this that Hamleys stock are from a company called Vtech. Many of the Vtech products that I looked at were designed to be used by children from a very early age and most of them are either pink or blue.

Introducing colour to children from a young age is very important for their development and this is why children’s toys are often produced in bright, bold colours. So really, producing toys in pink and blue has two potential problems, firstly that the shades used are often pastel and not primary, and secondly that young children are often encouraged to associate themselves with one of two particular colours and are not encouraged to explore the wide range of colour that is available.

Several examples of the lack of primary colours could be seen, I have chosen one to illustrate my point. On a shelf of soft toys, the type that are given to a baby at birth there was a soft toy of the rabbit character, Miffy. Miffy features in picture books for very young children written by Dick Bruna. She is usually depicted in bright primary colours, this toy was pink.

An extra point that I will make here is that it really doesn’t matter whether a toy is blue or pink as long as it entertains and educates a child in someway, after all, that is the purpose of toys. They are not to teach you that you have a place in society that doesn’t really exist.

I think that the Vtech issue is one that Hamleys would do well to look into. It is actually a bit silly that they stock such sexist items considering that their own brand is fairly equal and balanced. Another problem with these sexist items is that they teach children that there are many barriers between girls and boys. There are of course differences between the two genders, but these should be taught so that children understand them and understand that they are merely differences and not things that should prevent us from talking and being friends with members of the other sex.

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