Learn About: Gender Responsive Programming for Adolescent Girls
Gender responsive programming requires attending to adolescent girls’ needs so that programs and policies can be designed to address a teen girls’ development and help them establish and sustain consistent, supportive relationships.
Gender-responsive programming provides girls with safe opportunities to heal from trauma without fear that disclosure and discussion will carry negative consequences. It also provides girls with opportunities for success in which they can produce something of value to themselves and those around them. This model creates an environment based upon safety, respect and dignity.
The components of a gender responsive programming for adolescent females include:
- Understanding the unique needs and developmental differences in females. Taking into account that for many teen girls:
- Self-concept is largely based on how others view them and the gender messages they receive from society.
- Relationships guide their behaviors. The program will focus on developing healthy, positive relationships. Girls relate and work best one-on-one. Feelings and emotions are central to how they relate and behave.
- There is a need to share experiences and feelings, and to be heard and affirmed.
- Girls’ brains are predominantly hard-wired with verbal skills; for recognizing, responding to emotions (empathizing); and to be more relational, to connect or resonate with others
- Tend to internalize failure and externalize success.
- Look to external sources for self-esteem.
- Greatly influenced by media.
- Valuing the female perspective which includes:
- Supporting the expression of feelings, making connections, and sharing.
- Encouraging non-competitiveness with other females.
- Acknowledging the diversity among females-that there are many ways to be a successful girl and woman.
- Teaching that being female is a strength, not a vulnerability or weakness.
- Celebrate and honor the female experience:
- Recognizing that the experiences of females and males are different, and should be valued equally.
- Providing role models and examples of strong and successful girls and women from diverse backgrounds and cultures.
- Providing support for girls’ success as young women.
- Empower young women to reach their full potential:
- Encouraging adolescent girls to believe in and use their physical strength and abilities.
- Use strengths-based language within the program.
- Encouraging girls to know and value their own feelings and opinions.
- Encouraging girls’ natural creativity and innovation.
- Encouraging girls to trust their own feelings, intuitions, and decisions.
- Providing girls with safe and socially appropriate opportunities to speak up, speak out, and advocate for their own opinions, beliefs, and rights.
- Create a model which is trauma-informed:
- Incorporates knowledge about violence against females and the impact of trauma, thereby increasing their effectiveness (Covington & Bloom, 2000, 2003).
- Provide treatment provided in a safe environment, with minimal risk of re- traumatization and with maximum support for healthy coping skills. (Covington & Bloom, 2000, 2003).
- Avoid triggering trauma reactions and/or traumatizing the individual.