(the title is a dumb reference to the caterpillar-cocoon-butterfly metaphor I’ve been using)
Hey girls, I know we talked about posting the most important part of our lit reviews on here. Here’s the conclusion to mine where I pull it all together into something that ojalá makes sense. You read the first draft, but I went through and tightened up a lot of things, so hopefully this reinforces my point. Ignore the underlines, they’re from track changes and I couldn’t figure out how to get rid of them. For those of you who still have to turn them in, march on! Feel free to send me anything you’re working on or let me know if you need to talk things out.
Girls as Agents of Social Change: Conclusions
Education, empowerment, and activism are by no means perfectly distinct from each other. The argument for girls’ education acclaims the ripple effect that an educated woman has on her community in terms of overall economic and physical well-being. Literacy and numeracy are the essential skills taken away from this education. The research on women’s empowerment views it as an effect of girls’ education. Empowerment has primarily to do with a woman’s ability to use her voice in her community. These two perspectives focus heavily on the benefits that society receives from the integration of educated women. While it is important for the girl to receive an education, her agency to engender true social change is ignored. The third argument takes for granted that girls are in school and looks critically at the difference between an empowered girl and a girl activist. The girl activist takes part in meaningful activities outside of the formal classroom to create a better community and world for all. While girls’ education has significant positive effects on a community, girls’ activism is necessary to social change that challenges the system that .
All three perspectives share a common goal: stronger communities with members that are equally able to participate to solve issues that affect all, with a special focus on the girl or woman as being able to do this. These issues are both the visible ones pertaining to well-being and the hidden ones that exist in attitudes embedded in institutions and minds. In order for communities to build upon their strengths and discover new ones, all voices must be heard (Rao and Walton 2004; Sen 1999). For the most effective social change, empowered individuals who are living the injustices must be the ones working to change them. They must be able to challenge existing structures and create brave alternatives to the current system (Rao and Walton 2004). Therefore, girls who are living a highly vulnerable a crucial position. They are at a point in which their choices can either perpetuate or challenge the system that threatens to push them aside. Education, for them, should not be seen as important for their future, for the economy, whatever, but as a way to further engage all members of a community in the present. Education, empowerment, and activism all must be directed at the creation of inclusive communities dedicated to engaging in true solutions to social issues. Because of their past exclusion, a special effort must be made to engage girls on both a personal level and collective level. Their involvement is also essential due to their marginalized status on a global level, which makes them “insiders” on many social issues. This level of engagement requires listening, trusting, learning, asking, and exposing. Education will not be the panacea, though it is crucial for at least the basic skills of literacy and numeracy. Empowerment is important individually, but does not automatically bring about the lasting social change that first made it necessary. Activism will bring about the most fundamental change, but is dependent on the basic skills and confidence that come from education and empowerment.