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Call for Christians to encourage girls pressured by sexism

by Eno Adeogun

The recommendation comes as new results from a Girlguiding survey suggest girls think sexism can be seen in all areas of their lives.

Speaking to Premier about her reaction to the survey, Rachel Gardner, President of Girls' Brigade said the results were both positive and negative.

She explained: "On the downer, girls in the UK aged 7-21 are still feeling immense pressure on how they look, what they say. They attribute words like strong to boys and kind to girls and they're feeling sexism and the oppression of that all around them.

"On the good side, many of them are feeling they now can actually speak out about it and they feel that their voices are being heard and they feel that society is waking up to the pressures that they feel under."

According to the Girls' Attitudes Survey commissioned by Girlguiding of 1,906 girls and young women aged between seven and 21, social media is the most common way girls pick up over-simplified portrayals of gender roles.

The report states girls as early as seven are "deeply affected by gender stereotypes" and a significant minority of schoolgirls believe some subjects are "more for boys".

Despite this, most girls feel confident in their ability to protect themselves online and "are unfazed about entering a male-dominated area of work".

The survey also revealed that almost two-thirds of 13 to 21-year-old's said they had experienced sexual harassment in the past year, which Maria Miller MP, chairwoman of the Women and Equalities Committee believes is linked to sexism.

She said the level of sexual harassment in schools was "of deep concern" and added that "these problems are linked - sexual harassment occurs when sexist stereotypes flourish".

Gardner told Premier it is the responsibility of all Christians to tackle this issue.

She said: "This is not just about a few people empowering girls, it's about all of us - church leaders, parents, grandparents, neighbours - saying 'we believe that each girl and boy is made in the image of God'.

"We believe that each girl has incredible potential and we want to kind of take some of the ceilings off above their heads and say 'you be the person that God created you to be'."

Listen to Rachel Gardner speaking with Premier's Eno Adeogun:

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