What does #GirlPower mean to you?
A few weeks ago the Spice Girls (much to my delight) announced a new UK reunion tour, 7 years after their last performance at the closing ceremony of the London 2012 Olympics. After listening to Mel B’s definition of their iconic catchphrase ‘Girl Power’ on Loose Women last month, I have started to wonder how this might resonate differently from person to person.
“Girl Power: A message for women supporting other women, no matter what you look like, no matter what background you come from. It's about embracing the fact that you're a woman, especially back then and especially now, and women need the support.”
On the show Janet Street-Porter was quick to shoot this definition down asking if it meant girls have a special power that men don't. She felt that an equal landscape and workplace was a better, very much reflective of the current focus we can see across businesses to be more diverse and inclusive in their talent strategies. And I would tend to agree, purely because Mel’s definition whilst hinting at the support needed, doesn’t explicitly reference the role men should play. Throughout my career to date I have been surrounded by some incredible females. Women who I have supported and championed in the workplace. This was rarely done because of their gender, and more because I’ve always seen it as being the right thing to do. However, maybe subconsciously the concept of ‘Girl Power’ has influenced my own actions? In which case I then began to wonder how some of those females I have become an ‘ally’ for might define ‘Girl Power’ themselves, so I invited then to share their thoughts in this special edition of the Think Differently blog.
What #GirlPower means to me…
Girl power immediately makes me think of the mid 90’s and the Spice Girls. A young girl about to go to Secondary school I was a lover of Top of the Pops and Smash hits, sitting firmly within their target market. All of my friends knew which Spice Girl they wanted to be and young girls all over the country were dressing up, singing their lyrics and shouting “Girl Power” with enthusiasm. The message was a sign of the times – loud and bold. Women in the 90’s across popular culture were literally singing and shouting about being unapologetic for the way they chose to live their lives. At the time, too young to register, we were unaware of how 90’s culture may have influenced us to raise our voices and reach for more, something I can now reflect on as my experience.
Fast-forward 25 years and we’ve moved on but the message continues to be mainstream with Feminist messages in our pop music and slogan T-shirts worn by celebrities and world leaders. A way of capitalising on a social movement? Yes, probably. But perhaps “Who run the world” might just inspire the next generation of women to shout about how they choose to live their lives and fundamentally help to make the world a more equal place…..
Liz Noble, Mentoring, Coaching & Curriculum Manager - Apprenticeships, EY
Girl power in today’s working world means that I have an array of incredible opportunities to showcase my talents and skillsets to give me just as much of a competitive edge as anyone else. It means having my ideas valued and listened to and acted upon. However I also see the term as having a much wider focus than just myself. To me it symbolises supporting and championing other women who work hard at what they do and celebrating their successes. ‘Girl Power’ is the ability to make positive changes within the workplace and drawing upon past experiences and challenges to help those around you. It is the power to be anything that we want to be if only we use our voice and ideas – with this attitude there really is no limit to how far our careers can go.
Jade Garner, FSO Assurance Apprentice, EY
Having grown up during the Spice Girl ‘Girl Power’ era, girl power then was just about fantastic dance moves and singing in the playground!
One thing hasn’t changed from the playground until now, girl power is about women working together and not being afraid to be the dominant force. The spice girls were a phenomenon during their time for being seemingly outspoken, over confident and unafraid.
If we look at this today, from an adult perspective, I now feel like girl power represents empowerment for women. It represents a feeling that we can do whatever and be whomever we choose so long as we (women) support one another.
Bianca Miller-Cole, CEO and Founder, The Be Group
What does girl power mean to you? In my opinion, girl power is about gender equality and women supporting other women; to feel empowered to be the best that they can be. I think it’s incredibly important that we recognise our worth and push ourselves because if we don’t, who will? As Women, lets recognise that we are amazing and all have girl power, so lets use it!
April Smith*, Risk Advisory Associate, Deloitte
I grew up in the era of Anna Raeburn and her show on Capital Radio with the Capital Doctor. Following in the wake of the Equal Pay Act in 1970, this was the first show that gave women a voice and platform to discuss personal, sexual an emotional problems and relationships. It ran until two years after the publication of Susan Jeffers’ Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway, the international best seller which helped millions of mostly women readers shake off their apprehensions and build their self-worth in their quest to realise their full potential.
Sheroes clearly responsible for their own success with the clear ethos that they deserved to act and earn just like men did regardless of their background, the Spice Girls took over the mantle from Raeburn, Jeffers and others. Their Girl Power message that any woman can achieve whatever we set our hearts and minds on achieving informed the lives of millions of women.
As a young Mum at the time, they provided me with the perfect platform to share the same values, philosophy and ability to speak up and be heard with my then seven year old daughter, qualities she (and I) both demonstrate today.
I’m by no way a feminist but I am passionate that women have the same opportunities in life as men particularly in education. For too long now young women like me have been encouraged to study the arts and leave science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) to the boys. This is so wrong. With the advent of artificial intelligence (AI), the interesting, stimulating and well paid jobs of the very near future are all going to require people to be educated in the STEM subjects. Yet very few girls are being told this or being encouraged in this direction. If girls don’t seize these opportunities in education now, they are going to be left far behind and this will influence their life experiences, earning capacity and quality of life. Education through the STEM subjects will indeed result in ‘Girl Power’ in abundance – and that’s what we girls ‘really, really want’.
Abi Pearson**, Sixth Form Student
Girl Power. To me, it’s the underdog of all phrases used for empowerment. I won’t lie, when I was 9, I wanted to buy one of those sparkly ridiculously small iron-on patch style backpacks with this quote written on it, just like a lot of girls my age did. But if you take away it’s marketability, popularity and glitz & glamour, there is a basic yet revolutionary drive behind it. Young female empowerment. Being taught from a young age that you can be an engineer or doctor or whatever you want to be when you grow up as long as you work hard for it. That you shouldn’t hate thick thighs, strong arms or a bit of pudge in your stomach, whether that’s on yourself or another young woman. That you should be allowed to be confident, talkative and want to get stuff done without being called ‘emotional’ or ‘bossy’. That you are beautiful just the way you are and shouldn’t change for anyone. That your body is your property and you can do whatever you want with it, no one can tell you otherwise. That you should stand up for what’s right and hold you head up high when doing so. These are just a couple of the things that girls struggle with thinking or doing on a daily basis. From a teenage girls point of view, Girl Power is an outdated phrase yet the sentiment of being proud lives on and it’s a theme that is more than necessary to teach the upcoming generations of new, diverse, creative young woman. It’s a phrase about not falling at the face of hatred or disapproval. About being unapologetically you and unapologetically female.
Claudia, 13 years, Leicester Youth Council Member
Share your thoughts on what #GirlPower means to you by leaving a comment below - I’m interested to hear from more inspirational females!