March 27, 2023
With our multimedia initiative She Creates Change, Room to Read is taking a bold step forward in our mission to reach girls in all corners of the globe with key life skills content. The first nonprofit-led animation and live action film project to promote gender equality through the stories of young women, She Creates Change will enable Room to Read's Girls' Education Program to reach millions more girls.
Life skills: What are they? Why are they needed?
So, what exactly are life skills?
Life skills are the critical skills that young people of all genders need to meet day-to-day challenges and make informed decisions. Life skills like self-confidence, perseverance, critical thinking and communicating assertively are particularly important skills for girls to develop so that they can advocate for themselves, deal with peer pressure, manage difficult emotions — and so much more. When girls learn these skills and how to use them daily, they become better equipped to handle life’s challenges, from overcoming harmful gender stereotypes to mitigating the impacts of climate change.
Room to Read’s life skills curriculum has long supported girls as they chart and pursue successful life paths and change their communities and the world for the better. Girls’ Education Program mentors and educators help girls strengthen their ability to overcome obstacles, manage their time, build healthy relationships and plan for their careers through age-appropriate activities and role plays. As they grow, girls in our program also acquire practical knowledge on essential topics like sexual and reproductive health, gender-based violence, financial education and climate justice, and learn to think critically and constructively about their choices and behaviors.
Grade 8 students enrolled in Room to Read’s Girls’ Education Program, for example, might begin a lesson on critical thinking skills by reflecting on the differences between facts and opinions. In small groups or pairs, girls might then analyze a list of statements and discuss which can be proven, and which cannot be proven, which are facts, and which are opinions — “on a sunny day, the sky is blue,” “mangoes are the best tasting fruit,” “July is one of the hottest months,” “the countries with the most people are China and India,” and so on.
The girls are then asked to practice thinking deeply and critically about a topic, stating their opinions and making an argument. An educator might pose a question like “in your area, what are the professions that you think are needed?” The girls are then asked to form an opinion supported by facts and given tips to be able to state their arguments respectfully and calmly, even when they disagree with their classmates.
In societies where girls are often expected to be silent and do what they are told, it is especially important to teach this type of thinking. Building critical thinking skills can improve girls’ decision-making, creativity and focus in school. It can also lead to higher levels of civic engagement later in life, preparing girls and young people of all genders to be leaders and creators of change in their communities and beyond.
How Room to Read has enhanced our life skills curriculum and modes of delivery
When the pandemic caused a global education crisis that put adolescent girls more acutely at risk of dropping out of school, Room to Read recognized the need and the opportunity to reach girls where they are — because school is not always a given.
We made changes to our programming to support girls through all media — print materials, radio and television broadcasts, and internet-based platforms like YouTube and messaging apps. By employing all available tools, we have provided varying ports of entry for girls to acquire the skills they need to negotiate decisions, choose their own futures and challenge limiting norms. We have also ensured that our programmatic offerings can be delivered regardless of available technology infrastructure and can evolve as infrastructure evolves.
Creating hallmark content: She Creates Change
Our multimedia programming was well-received, and with a demand for more versatile signature content, Room to Read developed She Creates Change, a dynamic anthology of initiatives that highlights the magic that happens when girls discover their own power and gain access to role models, both on the page and in person.
She Creates Change will allow Room to Read to make significant progress in scaling our girls’ education programming to reach more girls and advancing gender equality around the world. The multimedia initiative — which spans films, books and audio stories — aims to reach adolescent girls around the world with content and educational curriculum that supports them in creating change in their lives and communities.
Featuring six animated short films combined with mini documentaries, the She Creates Change film series showcases narratives of courageous young women from historically low-income communities in Bangladesh, India, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Tanzania and Vietnam. The series highlights how each girl confronts challenges unique to her life — harassment, food scarcity, early marriage — with the use of life skills and mentorship.
The official She Creates Change film trailer was released to general audiences in October 2023, in celebration of International Day of the Girl, and curriculum packages that align with the books, videos and audio stories are currently being provided to students both online and through in-person programming.