Although I am a self-professed non-football fan (no offense to all those who are), I ended up watching more of last month’s Super Bowl than I had intended. Of course, watching the Super Bowl also means watching the commercials. One that really struck a chord with me came from Always. As part of their Like a Girl initiative, which is meant to encourage young girls to retain their confidence during the difficult years of puberty, Always created a powerful commercial to show how doing something “like a girl” should not carry a negative connotation; to do something “like a girl” means to do something to the best of your ability, to try your hardest. What an important message for people to understand early in life: one’s gender (and race, ethnicity, religion, and sexual orientation, for that matter), is not a hindrance. To be a girl, to be a woman, is to be a human being, as capable and powerful as any other human being.
This is an especially timely message given that March is Women’s History Month. In fact, this Sunday, March 8th is International Women’s Day, dedicated to promoting gender equality and the advancement of women and girls around the world.
The library provides a wealth of information about great women of the past, via books, encyclopedias, and our many databases. You can learn about the accomplishments of famous barrier breakers, like Harriet Tubman, Amelia Earhart, and Gloria Steinem. As I did in February during our discussion of Black History Month, I also encourage you to seek out lesser known rebel rousers. Do you know anything about these ladies: Nellie Bly, Alice Marie Coachman, Fanny Jackson Coppin, Frances Perkins, Sybil Ludington, Carolyn R. Payton? If the answer is no, I suggest you get yourself to the library and start reading.
The LPL is also a place where young girls can come to feel empowered. Our YA librarians organize a number of programs that provide for the emotional well-being of teens and that encourage them to find their passions and their voices. In the past, we have partnered with Girls, Inc., an organization that works to bring gender parity to the STEM fields (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) and encourage all-around confidence in young women. In April and May, we will be working in conjunction with the organization to present an exciting program: Leadership and Community Action: Girls Breaking Barriers. Girls in grades 9-12 will learn how to develop, shoot, and edit a Public Service Announcement that will address a relevant topic. Registration begins Wednesday, March 18th. The Teen Lounge is also home to a Strong Girls group, which fosters a sense of comradery among teen girls and offers them a safe place to discuss the topics affecting their lives.
Eleanor Roosevelt once said, “The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams.” As we celebrate Women’s History Month, we honor those women who overcame incredible odds to realize their dreams; we acknowledge the women of today who, in ways great and small, are shifting our world to one of greater gender equality; and we encourage those young women who will become architects of our future, one dream at a time.