Save the Children review: Girls want professional careers, seek family support 

Where girls aspire to enter income-generating professions, some parents prefer their children to conform to traditional expectations of being 'well-behaved girls.'

This insight comes from a review of a campaign by Save the Children on Thursday, reads a press release. 

On the occasion of International Day of the Girl Child on 11 October, Save the Children Bangladesh conducted a month-long campaign called 'Girl Talk_Balbo Ami Shuno Sobai' in 64 districts of the country through direct and online channels where girls between the ages of 13- 19 years answered some questions about their dreams, aspirations and expressed their hope and expectation from their family.  

Along with teenage girls from 64 districts, their families, guardians, and local dignitaries also participated in this campaign and more than 21 thousand people from across the country responded. 

More than 18,000 of the total participants were girls aged 13-19 years. Of the girls 99 per cent said they want to pursue various professional careers while answering the question ‘What is your life’s aspiration?'. About 20 per cent of the parents, family, and community people answered they want the girls to become good people and lead a good life to the question “What are your aspirations for the teenage girl(s) in your family/community?” 

Among girls, 37 per cent said they want to become physicians , about 17 per cent want to become teachers, and 11 per cent want to join law enforcement. The review revealed that girls in the hill tract region have a higher aspiration to join law enforcement forces.   

A total of 74 per cent of girls want to become physicians, teachers, police, engineers, or pilots while very few girls want to choose law, banking, journalism, art and literature as careers or dream of becoming entrepreneurs. About 20 per cent of parents, families, and society people are in favour of taking ‘medicine’ as a profession for girl child and after that, they prefer ‘teaching’ as a profession for girls.  

This shows that the thinking patterns of girls in pursuing a career are consistent with their parents, family, and people in the society and the surrounding opinions influence girls in choosing and deciding on a career. 

According to the Gender Equality and Social Inclusion Advisor of Save the Children in Bangladesh, Shamema Akter Shamme, “It is necessary to inform girls that there are many opportunities in many professions beyond the professions that are at the top of the choice list in choosing a career for girls. Many professions are not being introduced to girls from within certain communities, which is depriving them of greater opportunities in the workplace. From the review we saw that fewer girls want to be bankers than the number of girls who want to be pilots. But they don't know that there are many job opportunities for girls in the banking sector in our country whereas openings for pilot positions in the aviation sector are relatively fewer. It is everyone's responsibility to educate girls more about other careers, introduce them to other careers and give them an opportunity to dream without limits.” 

"Invest in Girls' Rights, Our Leadership, Our Well- being"- supporting the theme of this year's IDG, one of the aims of the month-long campaign was to know the areas and ways of investment on girls. 

Reefat Bin Sattar, Programme Development and Quality Sector Director of Save the Children in Bangladesh, said, “Investment does not mean only economic investment, but also the role of family, society, and the state that will help girls to move forward and fulfill their dreams. Through Save the Children's 'Girl Talk_Balbo Aami Shuno Shobai' campaign, girls themselves have said what issues can help them move forward smoothly if their parents, family, and society invest in them.” 

About 45 per cent of the girls said they want all-out support without discrimination and hinderance from fulfilling their dreams, creating enough opportunities to study, maintaining a peaceful environment in the family, and creating a safe society. Some have said that they should not be married off at a young age, there have also been replies that they should not be compared to other children or relatives in the family. That is, family cooperation, giving time and importance to girl child, creating a safe social system, not keeping girls mentally small, being aware of girls' health - these are all areas of investment and family, parents, society should all make these investments to advance girls.