Tuesday, October 10, 2023 – Your Shortcut to… Girl Power!

Where we dive into the who, what, when, where, why and how of the big news stories.


Girls are more likely to do housework, less likely to go to school, and … they’re doing something about it. This is your Squiz Kids Shortcut to Girl Power—the podcast where we dive into the who, what, when, where, why and how of the big news stories. I’m Amanda Bower.

And I’m Bryce Corbett.

Bryce, the world is home to 1.1 BILLION girls under 18. Given that October 11 is the United Nations’ International Day of the Girl Child, this seems like the perfect time to talk about WHERE the phrase “girl power” comes from, WHY there’s an international day for girls, WHAT chores and weddings have to do with it, and HOW superheroes and sports stars are a sign of better times.

Listen carefully – there’s a Squiz at the end!


Amanda, I think I’m showing my age… but doesn’t the phrase “Girl Power” come from that British pop band from the 1990s, the Spice Girls?

They’re definitely the ones who made it popular! But it actually started a little earlier in America, when a girl punk band called Bikini Kill started a magazine with the subtitle “Girl Power”. That band was known for its feminism, which means standing up for women’s rights. But it was those five Spice Girls who really pushed the slogan “Girl Power” into popular culture, and the Oxford English Dictionary!

Oh yeah, they were all about friendship between girls, about girls helping their friends feel confident, powerful, strong. And it may or may not be true that I can sing the lyrics to every one of their songs from the album Spiceworld… 
Anyway, back to the Spice Girls. They made the phrase Girl Power a part of the popular culture, didn’t they?

Sure did. Nowadays, if you google Girl Power you’ll find playlists, t-shirts, organisations running workshops, sports, and camps for girls… it’s a really common thing to see girls being encouraged to seize opportunities and make the most of their abilities.

So… if that’s the case, WHY do we need an International Day of the Girl Child?


Okay Amanda, the United Nations has dozens and dozens of International Days… there’s the day of indigenous peoples, a day for biological diversity, a day against nuclear testing… why do girls get one?

Well, the UN says these days are occasions to educate the public on issues of concern, and fire them up to address problems. There’s been an International Women’s Day since the early 1900s, trying to make things more equal between men and women, but in 2011, the UN decided it should draw attention to issues faced specifically by girls in their younger years. So on October 11, 2012, the first International Day of the Girl Child was celebrated.

So what are some of those issues faced especially by girls?

Education is a big one. Yes, girl power is a well known thing in Australia, America, Britain… but there are 32 million girls worldwide who are primary school age, just like our Squiz Kids listeners, and they aren’t going to school. It actually gets worse for teenagers: globally, nearly 1 in 4 girls aged 15–19 years doesn’t have a job, isn’t at school or university. That’s compared with 1 in 10 boys of the same age.

I imagine some kids are listening and thinking… no school? Sounds okay to me…

Yeah, I guess it could sound like fun to not to go to school, but these kids aren’t staying home and playing video games, or playing with their friends. Primary school age kids who aren’t getting educated are usually extremely poor, and having to help their parents trying to scrape together a living. So you can’t read, you can’t write, you’re doing backbreaking work… it’s not much fun.

And then there are places where girls aren’t allowed to go to school … we’ve talked on Squiz Kids Today about the challenges facing girls in Afghanistan who are trying to get educated.

That’s right. The Taliban, a extremist religious group that regained power in Afghanistan in 2021, has stopped most girls from being able to go to school.

Okay, so education is one area of concern for many millions of girls. You mentioned weddings and chores earlier. WHAT do they have to do with the situation facing some girls today?


Hold onto your hats for this statistic. A new report from the Save the Children organisation estimates that one girl under the age of 15 is married every 7 seconds.

Wait… that’s really young. And that’s really often.

In the time we’ve spoken these last four sentences, at least two children have gotten married. Another way of thinking about it… one in 4 women in the world today got married when they were still a child.

Why do their parents let them?

Well, usually it’s their parents arranging it. They’re doing it because they think it’s the best thing for their family, and for the girl. A marriage is seen as a way of protecting a girl, and making sure she has a husband to take care of her. And in some cases and places, people still think the main job of a girl is to get married and have babies.

I’m guessing those attitudes to what girls should be doing has something to do with the chore situation, too?

That’s right. Worldwide, girls ages 5 to 14 spend more than 160 million hours more on household chores than boys of the same age do, according to UNICEF.

Hmm, that doesn’t sound like gender equality to me.

And if a girl is doing more than her fair share of chores, she’s not able to spend as much time on schoolwork… and the cycle continues.

But you mentioned that things are getting better… HOW?


The first thing to know is that every single statistic we’ve talked about – with education, child marriage, chores – the numbers are improving, as organisations like the UN work to educate people about the problem with discriminating against girls, but also about the POSITIVES of getting Girl Power going.

And there are definitely more role models for girls now, aren’t there?

Absolutely. We’re seeing more women go into science and computing, we’re seeing more women in politics, we’re even seeing more Girl Power at the movies. Bryce, when you and I were kids, the only superhero movies were about Batman, Superman, Spiderman… a lot of “”men””. There were comic book girl superheroes, but they used to often be the weakest in the gang, or drawn in ways that drew more attention to their looks and outfits than to their characters and powers.
Now we’ve got full length feature films about Wonder Woman, Captain Marvel, Black Widow, … well, you get the idea.

Girl Power!

And we see the same on our sports fields. Women started competing at the Olympics starting in 1900, but only in three sports. In 1988, only a quarter of Olympic athletes were women… and the Tokyo Olympics in 2021 was the highest percentage ever, at 49%.

So … close…to half… 

Despite being basically equal on that front, if you turn on the telly or pick up a paper, you’ll see that only about 10% of total sports coverage on any given day in Australia is showing women’s sport.

That could have something to do with the fact that only 10% of sports journalists are women, even though women make up half of all journalists.

Well girls, if you love sport and writing, that’s a great future career option. Girl Power!

The S’Quiz

1. How many sports were women allowed to compete in when they were first allowed at the Olympics?
2. What is the name of the British pop group who helped make famous the expression ‘ Girl Power’
3. How often is a girl under 15 married in the world today?