In American society, equality is an idea that is frequently discussed and questioned in all aspects of society. Many forms of discrimination exist in the United States, but one that has caught the attention of many people is gender inequality. These various gender norms have a negative effect on the mentality of our women and men. By allowing these attitudes to exist, we as a society are unintentionally endorsing this behavior and are promoting gender inequality. However, one organization called Girls On The Run, a nonprofit committed to inspiring young women, has proven that it is capable of changing the lives and attitudes of our society in a positive and enriching way.
One approach to combating gender inequality is to empower women to rise above these limitations. Girls On The Run is on organization that does this and more. By instilling confidence in young girls through running, Girls On The Run is helping to create strong, independent women who have the ability to stand up for themselves in the real world. Their mission statement clearly explains their overarching goals in that they “inspire girls to be joyful, healthy and confident using a fun, experience-based curriculum which creatively integrates running.” Running is a sport that is inclusive and requires a large amount of concentration, training, and personal reflection. As a result, running is the perfect way to inspire girls to embrace who they are, define who they want to be, rise to any challenge, and pursue their dreams, no matter the stereotypes and barriers that appear to be in their way.
In Polsci 101, Professor LaVaque-Manty discussed the limitations placed on women in relation to athletic prowess. As a result of gender stereotypes, women have been deemed incapable of performing certain physical activities simply because of their gender. We also learned about this type of discrimination when a guest speaker spoke to our class about the obstacles present in being a woman in the military. All of these forms of gender discrimination stem from the idea that women are incapable of performing certain tasks and are inferior simply because they are women. One type of feminism, as stated by Professor LaVaque-Manty, that combats this is liberal feminism. By definition, liberal feminism states that gender categories are contingent, and they should not limit or determine the opportunities any given individual has. This type of feminism strives to address the issues that are present in the above examples and in our own society.
Girls On The Run specifically is trying on a broad scale to adhere to the principles present in liberal feminism. By empowering young women to be independent, motivated, and healthy, Girls On The Run is ensuring that gender categories do not limit or determine the opportunities that these girls and other people have. During races and training sessions, these volunteers are showing these young women that they have control over their own lives and their own choices by giving them positive encouragement and motivation to succeed. Directly working with children and inspiring them to be the best people they can be is a great first step in positively changing the mindset of our society.
In order to successfully enact change in our society, attitudes and mindsets need to be altered. Our youth is a perfect group of people to begin this process with, for their minds and attitudes are very malleable. They are the generation that can conquer this problem. In order for this to be successfully accomplished, the processes and thought behind it need to be carefully planned and calculated. Girls On The Run organizes thousands of events and runs to benefit their cause, such as one race that I attended last week. These races truly bring out all of the best qualities in every person who runs and volunteers. United behind one cause, all of the people supporting Girls On The Run are making a positive impact on our society. This preliminary step in eliminating gender inequality in our society is one that I believe can make a great impact on our our own lives and those of future generations and can positively influence their attitudes and mindsets.