Over the last 50 years, women have made great strides for equal rights, but inequality still exists in many situations. For example, women today earn, on average, just 77 cents for every dollar a man earns, which adds up to approximately $11,000 per year (Hello Ladies News). Additionally, in 2009 only 24 percent of CEOs in the US were women and they earned 74.5% as much as male CEOs (International Labour Organization) Women are also underrepresented in politics and make up only 17% of Congress (WCF Foundation). Moreover, 85% of survivors of Intimate Partner Violence are women (AllState Foundation).
For these reasons, and many more, it is important to raise a generation of girls and boys that want to work towards gender equality. As a Big Sister, you can play a big role in helping your Little Sister start thinking about gender equality regardless of her age. Here are some suggestions:
- Education about the struggle that women have faced in the past and still face today. One match activity that could help learn more about women’s history is to take a self-guided tour on the Boston Women’s Heritage Trail. On their website, they have guides for tours in neighborhoods all over Boston. They also have events and exhibits on women’s history.
- Talk to women from different generations about what it means to be a feminist and what the word means to them. You can also discuss with them what changes they have seen for women over the years.
- Read a book together. If your Little Sister is younger, there are several books of fairy tales written from a feminist perspective. One example is Feminist Fairy Tales by Barbara G Walker. If your Little Sister if older, read a book that discusses being a feminist as a young woman. One example is A Little F’ed Up: Why Feminism is Not a Dirty Word by Julie Zeilinger.
- Watch MissRepresentation or find a screening of the movie. For more information, follow them on Facebook or check out their website.
- When watching TV or a movie, discuss the ways that women are portrayed. Are they portrayed with positive characteristics – such as being strong, confident and smart? Or are they portrayed with negative characteristics – such as being manipulative, shallow, and sex objects? You can also talk about music that your Little Sister may listen to. The important thing to point out is that your Little Sister does not have to stop watching shows that portray women in a negative way; however, it is important for her to develop media literacy to critique these portrayals.
- Identify and discuss sheroes, which are female heroes. A shero can be someone that you know personal or a female role model that you look up to. You can start the discussion with sheroes you are already familiar with – such as Michelle Obama, Hilary Clinton, or Beyoncé. You can also look up other sheroes that you are not familiar with – such as Benazir Bhutto, Jane Goodall, or Melnea Cass.
Spread the message with the click of a button! If you are not already connected to Big Sister through Facebook please “Like” us or follow us on Twitter. There are a lot of great resources and posts that you can share.
Begin or continue the conversation! Talk with friends, family, and colleagues about the need for more women to inspire a girl in their community. It’s not about being perfect. It’s about being present.
Share your story! Write about your experience as a Big Sister, your favorite match activity with your Little Sister, or how you supported a friend to become a Big Sister and send them to Nikki White at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Upcoming Big Sister Events
Poetry & Photography Workshop
Saturday, June 1, 10:00am-12:00pm
Learn how to put your thoughts on paper through poetry or a short story with your Little Sister. Bring in 3-5 favorite photos for inspiration! Matches will have an opportunity to share what they’ve written at the end of class. To RSVP contact Jessica Mendenhall at email@example.com.
Saturday, May 18
What better way to show your Little Sister how to reach a goal than with a fun-filled scavenger hunt around downtown Boston! 7-10 year-olds will learn skills to reach for their dreams during Big Sister’s Real Choices Strong Voices – Dream Big! workshop.
Please contact Holly Armstrong at firstname.lastname@example.org to reserve your spot. Don’t miss this wonderful opportunity!
Guest Blog Post By: Erica Brien, Enrollment & Matching Specialist
On Sunday, September 15, I had the chance to join five Big and Little Sister matches at Big Sister’s “Come Sail Away” event, the final sailing event of the season. We met at Pier 6 in Charlestown before boarding “Tupelo Honey,” a boat owned by Legal Seafoods’ Director of Communication Ann Flannery and her beau, Captain Don.
“This is the happy bell,” Capt. Don informed us as we boarded Tupelo Honey. “Every time we hear a happy word, we’ll ring the happy bell.”
As the matches got comfortable on the boat, they went around in a circle to introduce themselves. One match explained that they’d been together for 16 months, another match for just about a year. The next two matches had been together since the beginning of 2012.
“We’ve been together for 14 years,” Marisa, the final Big Sister said.
Jaws dropped. Sounds of the happy bell rang in the air. “Fourteen years!” the entire boat exclaimed simultaneously.
“We were matched when Susanne was six years old, and she is turning twenty at the end of this month,” said Marisa as she turned to Susanne and smiled. “So this will be our final Big Sister event.”
Marisa and Susanne have been together since Marisa was in college, and now Susanne is a sophomore in college herself. They have experienced a number of milestones together: Marisa’s college graduation, wedding and the start of her family. They have been matched through Susanne’s most formative years, elementary school, middle school, and high school, and Marisa has even been able to celebrate Susanne’s acceptance to Boston College.
She put her arms around her Little Sister. “And just because we won’t technically be Big Sister and Little Sister,” she smiled at Susanne, “we’ll still be good friends.”
The winds were steady and strong, blowing us out to Castle Island. On our return into the harbor, Jaelin, the youngest Little Sister onboard Tupelo Honey, grabbed the helm of the ship and guided us as we made our way back towards the dock. Confident, Jaelin shared stories as she moved the wheel back and forth.
Each of us had the chance to sit on the bow of the boat and stare into the city. We watched as an orange butterfly skimmed the water, and we chatted about whatever subjects came to mind. We disembark Tupelo Honey feeling optimistic about the morning and what the rest of our Sunday may have had to offer. We became inspired by a story of a positive, trusting relationship built through years of dedication and commitment, inspired by the power of human connection and the possibilities of establishing life-long friendships with a Big or Little Sister.