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TEDxArendal, Knut Helge Stenseth
TEDxArendal, Knut Helge Stenseth


This 11-year-old girl’s inspiring message ended up in the newspaper — and then affected real change

By Mishelle Beltser on November 1, 2017

Guro Heggholmen, an 11 year-old-girl from Norway, is an observant child. She has taken notice of the many instances of gender inequality that she encounters in daily life — and has taken it upon herself to pave the way for change for all boys and girls. In a recent Tedx Talk, she discussed the things that she sees wrong around her that she has tried to change, because as she puts it, “the small things shape us.”

When Guro was just 5 years old she asked her father why her favorite TV show, The Mickey Mouse Club, always depicted Mickey in the driver’s seat and Minnie as passenger in the car. She believes children should see that both boys and girls can be in the driver’s seat. At 9 she questioned a mannequin display in her local mall. All the male mannequins were doing “cool stuff,” like handstands, while the female mannequins were, “posing just to look good.” Guro wrote a letter to the editor of her local newspaper hoping to encourage the mall management to change the display. She succeeded, and the display was changed to have both male and female mannequins doing handstands. She even mentioned that something like choosing a backpack could be difficult if you are anything other than a girl who loves pink or a boy who likes blue, stating that if you are a boy who does not like to play football or a girl who loves dinosaurs, then that is quite normal, “even if the world around you tells you differently.”

Her biggest challenge came when she took on a music company whose video reminded her of what recess in her schoolyard looked like —  boys playing and girls just standing by watching. The popular music video showed boys skateboarding and doing backflips, while girls lounged by the pool, merely trying to look good. It inspired her to start a campaign #notforshow (#ikketilpynt), because she said she did not want “other kids to believe our world is like that.” At first the company declined her critique, but after a week of campaigning, the company decided to edit the video. Guro and those who campaigned with her “made a small change.” These changes, she says, shape how boys and girls look at each other, how they behave and what they think they are able to accomplish. Guro is encouraging everyone to “open your eyes and see the small things around you, point your finger at what’s wrong.” Below, watch the video of her complete Tedx Talk.


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