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Girlguiding Scotland launches media literacy campaign for girls and young women

By Kirsty Brown

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Girlguiding Scotland, the leading charity for girls and young women, has launched their new Media Mindful campaign to support girls and young women to challenge sexism and negative gender stereotypes in the media.

Created by Girlguiding Scotland’s Speak Out champions - a group of young women aged 15-23 - the campaign aims to challenge sexism and negative gender stereotypes in the media.

This issue was identified by the group as being a key contributor to girls’ unhappiness and poor mental health.

The group have created an activity pack designed to help girls develop media literacy skills, developed with support from University of Strathclyde and Gender Equal Media (GEM) Scotland.

Girlguiding members can earn the Media Mindful badge by completing activities in the pack.

The campaign comes in response to Girlguiding Scotland’s Girls in Scotland 2018 research that found high levels of unhappiness and appearance worries among girls and young women.

The forthcoming Girls in Scotland 2020 research also found 68 percent of girls aged 11-21 feel newspapers, magazines and influencers on social media need to do more to stop reinforcing gender stereotypes.

As part of the campaign, the organisation is calling on both traditional and social media outlets, as well as individuals such as bloggers and influencers, to commit to taking a gender-sensitive approach when creating content.

They want to see the media promote a more diverse range of women, focussing on what women and girls can accomplish rather than their value being solely around their appearance.

They’re also calling for social media platforms to urgently address the ways in which is users reinforce appearance pressures and have greater transparency on how girls and young women can be engaged and empowered to raise and report concerns where they see them.

Media Mindfulness.
Media Mindfulness.

Speak Out champion Leah Bartlett (17) said: “As a group we realised that from a young age a lot of what we see in the media is unrealistic and this is having a negative impact on girls’ happiness and mental health.

"We decided that we needed to take action.

"That’s why we’ve developed the Media Mindful campaign to support girls and young women across Scotland to develop their resilience and think critically about the media they consume.”

Director of Gender Studies at Strathclyde University Professor Karen Boyle said: “We’re so pleased to team up with Girlguiding Scotland to create this new activity pack all about supporting girls and young women to challenge how women and girls are portrayed and represented in the media.

"Each activity focuses on developing media literacy skills, encouraging girls and young women to think about the kinds of stories about gender that are told, the way these stories are told, and who gets to tell them.

"Equipping girls and young women with tools to critically engage with the media means we can help the next generation to navigate the pressures they face by what they read, watch and hear.”

Minister for Older People and Equalities, Christina McKelvie, said: “I welcome this campaign which will help girls and young women challenge negative stereotypes in the media.

"Women and girls are still subject to sexist comments in their life and see this reflected in the media when it comes to women in the public eye.

"Whether online, in newspapers or in magazines, too often the focus is on our appearance and not on our skills or achievements.

"The Scottish Government is fully committed to creating a gender equal future and I’m proud to stand with Girlguiding Scotland and I commend them on this programme which will empower young women and girls to call for an end to sexism on our screens and on our pages.”

Speak Out is Girlguiding Scotland youth voice, established in 2018 as part of the Year of Young People.

Speak Out is girl-led and provides a platform for members to use their voices and seek change at the highest levels.

The champions are asking everyone to join them from November 23 – 29 for their Media Mindful week of action to take part in the #ChangeTheHeadline challenge to correct sexist news headlines.

More information about the campaign and the challenge pack can be found on Girlguiding Scotland's website at girlguidingscotland.org.uk/media-mindful .

Girlguiding Scotland offers girls and young women aged five to 25 a wide range of opportunities to try new experiences, learn new skills and grow in confidence.

For over 100 years guiding has made many positive differences in communities right across Scotland, and as Guiding groups adapt to host meetings online or begin to meet face to face again the charity’s volunteers are committed to deliver guiding in new and innovative ways so that they can continue to keep connected and empower girls and young women.

If you would like to know more about volunteering to support girls and young women in Scotland you can visit www.girlguidingscotland.org.uk/get-involved/ .

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