Empowering Women and Redefining Gender Roles in Mexico

Children International's Youth Programs Teach Youth to Respect Themselves and Others and Look Beyond Gender Stereotypes
Mar 3, 2015 10:05 AM ET

By Ashley Puderbaugh

"Weak, defenseless, sensitive, innocent, little." These are the words five teens in Mexico used to tell me what the word "girl" meant to them. And when I asked about the word "boy?" "Strong and big."

This didn't come as a surprise to me. Children in our sponsored populations often live in patriarchal societies. Most women are homemakers and are discouraged from finding work outside the home.

Through our youth programs, we're hoping to change the way our sponsored children think about what it means to be a girl or boy. We teach them to recognize the value and worth of one another, as well as to support equal rights and access. We show girls they have choices, opportunities and a say over how they choose to live their lives.