Celebrating the first ever ‘International Day of the Girl’ with mindfulness projects that build confidence and self-esteem

Thursday 11th October is the first ever ‘International Day of the Girl’ – designated by the United Nations following an extensive campaign led by Plan UK: “It’s a day to spread the word that the power of investing in girls is extraordinary.” This year the focus of the day will be on Education.

On 11th October, a flagship event in London, organised by Plan, will focus on mentoring girls of secondary school age to achieve their potential in terms of career success. At The Dharma Primary School, our approach is to support girls’ development from a much younger age (4 – 11) through an ethos of mindfulness and self-reflection. Research shows that cognitive and ‘coping’ mechanisms learnt around the age of seven are crucial in determining how we will function as adults. Self-awareness and understanding developed through mindfulness practice can help buffer girls against low self-esteem and the bombardment of cultural messages they receive about body image, beauty and what it ‘means’ to be a girl.

Through class projects, discussion and mindfulness practice, we will be focusing on the importance of both genders supporting, understanding and respecting each other – to help build a more compassionate and peaceful world:  Our Year 6 pupils are taking part in a ‘role reversal’ project exploring what it might feel like to swap typical gender roles – in classic children’s stories and historical contexts through to playground games, hobbies and career choices. The children in years 3 to 6 will also be learning about successful women in society which will include the lives of girls from other countries and cultures. The school will also hold a special puja for pupils to mark ‘International Day of the Girl’, on Thursday 11th October.

“The Buddhist practice of mindfulness is neutral; it enables us to reflect upon our biases and attitudes towards many things, including gender and the meanings we attach to that, so that we can reach our full potential as human beings. To nurture girls within our school, and indeed to improve the prospects of girls worldwide, it is crucial to engage both girls and boys with the notion that, as human beings, we all deserve respect and understanding, and access to equal opportunities.”  – Peter Murdock, Head Teacher, the Dharma Primary School.

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