For almost 150 years, GFS has been working to create a world where all girls and young women can thrive, are free to be themselves and are proud of who they are. Through our long experience, we have come to identify a number of factors that we believe are key to our work to improve girls’ futures.
Research shows that there is a steep drop on girls’ confidence, self-esteem and general wellbeing around the age of 11. While many organisations work with girls during their teenage years in an effort to rebuild what has been lost.
However, the GFS approach is all about working with girls to prevent that drop off, rather than reversing it. By strengthening positive self-image and building good habits from the ages of 5-11, we believe it’s possible to equip girls with the resilience and tools they will need to sustain them through the challenging years to come.
Working with the girls who need us most
While gender inequality affects all girls, we understand that its impact is greater form some, than others. For example, where gender intersects with economic disadvantage, outcomes for girls and young women worsen.
For that reason, GFS primarily works with girls in the most deprived areas of England and Wales. Group locations are decided based on various factors such as areas with high unemployment and significant numbers of children on free school meals. It is here we believe we can make the most difference and provide important opportunities.
Creating a non-competitive environment
The GFS programme does not have a formal structure of achievement or progress built in. We understand that it is important to value every girl, her progress and her strengths, individually. This is particularly important for those girls who are finding school challenging, or have difficult relationships at home. By celebrating each girl for who she is, we help build a vital sense of self-worth that will help her remember that she matters, in a world that often suggests otherwise.
Importantly, our programme is designed with input from the girls at various points. In this way, we can make sure GFS is giving girls what they want and need. As well as feeding into programme on a national level, groups are encouraged to tailor the sessions to be relevant for their girls and cover any issues that are notable within their community.
The programme activities we share with groups are all designed to help the girls achieve personal growth in six key areas that we believe will give them the foundations to face life’s challenges. These six areas combine to make, what we call, The GFS Girl.
1. I can speak up about things that matter to me
2. I am proud of who I am
3. I try again if I have a setback
4. I can try new or unfamiliar things
5. I believe I can achieve my hopes and dreams
6. I can enjoy friendships with all kinds of people
The GFS Girl is a picture of how what we think confidence, resilience, self-esteem and wellbeing looks like for girls and young women. She is based on the the Young Foundation and Centre of Youth Impact.
|Communication||Explaining, expressing, presenting, listening, questioning, using different ways of communicating|
|Managing feelings||Reviewing, self-awareness, reflecting, self-regulating, self-accepting|
|Resilience and determination||Self-disciplined, self-management, self-motivated, concentrating, having a sense of purpose, persistent, self-controlled |
|Planning and problem solving||Navigating resources, organising, setting and achieving goals, decision making, researching, analysing, critical thinking, questioning and challenging, evaluating risks, reliability|
|Creativity||Imaging alternative ways of doing things, applying learning in new contexts, enterprising, innovating, remaining open to new ideas|
|Confidence and agency||Self-reliance, self-esteem, self-efficacy, self-belief, ability to shape your own life and the world around you|
|Relationships and leadership||Motivating others, valuing and contributing to team working, negotiating, establishing positive relationships, interpreting others, managing conflict, emphasising|