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Raising the next generation of confident young people

Did you know that 8 out of 10 girls with low body confidence will opt out of important activities such as raising their hands in a classroom setting to voice their opinion and that 7 out of 10 girls with low body esteem, will stop themselves from eating or otherwise put their health at risk by not seeing a doctor?

Low self-esteem and body confidence issues are holding young people back, resulting in unfulfilled potential, but there is something that we can do to help them.

Friday 11 October marked the 8th annual commemoration of the UN sanctioned International Day of the Girl Child, which aims to recognise girls’ rights, as well as the unique everyday challenges girls face around the world. This internationally recognised day promotes girl’s empowerment, and fulfillment of their human rights.

For more than 15 years, the Dove Self-Esteem Project(DSEP) has helped more than 35 million young people across the globe to develop a positive relationship with the way they look by encouraging conversations with women and young girls, addressing issues of beauty, confidence and self-esteem. Dove is striving to reach its goal of impacting 40 million young people by 2020 with positive self-esteem messaging through DSEP.

Dove launched the DSEP in South Africa in 2014, reaching almost 600 000 girls with self-esteem education locally, and has become the biggest provider of self-esteem education of its kind. This year, Dove wants to share how they have been going about doing this.

At this International Day of the Girl Child, Dove and its influencer partners attended one of the hundreds of in-school DSEP programmes at Bordeaux Primary School in Randburg, where 200 Grade 5 to 7 learners were immersed in discussions around self-esteem and body confidence. 

The workshop, hosted by trained facilitators and assisted by Dove campaign partners including Sthandiwe Kgoroge, Lesego “Thick Leeyonce” Legobane, Siyanda Dzenga, among others, saw the students tackle issues such as appearance pressures, the state of professional media and how images are manipulated, and personal and social media and the issues faced by comparison and unrealistic expectations, culminating in their personal pledge to empower them on their own journey towards building self-esteem and body positivity.

From working with young people to navigate unhelpful friendships at school to tackling appearance ideals and comparing the way they look to others, the DSEP programme provides accredited educational tools and resources to address some of today’s biggest barriers to a young person’s self-esteem, that anyone can use to have important conversations with the young people in their lives.

These evidence-based resources, developed by Dove, in partnership with leading experts in the fields of psychology, health, are available to download for free from and are on hand to assist parents and teachers, individuals and professionals alike to ensure that low body confidence and anxieties over appearance don’t stop young people from being their best selves.

Sphelele Mjadu, senior public relations manager for Unilever Beauty and Personal Care for Africa said, “As a brand with real purpose, the Dove Self-Esteem Project is an initiative at the core of what Dove believes in, with a mission of ensuring that the next generation grows up to enjoy a positive relationship with the way they look, in order to help them to reach their full potential. The programme, which is proven to make a positive impact on body confidence, targets schools at a grassroots level to address the issues at hand when young people are most vulnerable and exposed. Studies show that low body confidence and appearance anxieties are stopping our young people from being their best selves, impacting their health, friendships and school performance. Dove wants to be part of changing this reality.”

How can you help? Everyone can get involved in the conversation. From becoming more aware of the day-to-day realities of being a young person in today’s society of distorted images and social media comparison, to leading a self-esteem building workshop in your community, or advocating for effective body-confidence education to be provided in your schools. The simple act of starting a conversation about body confidence with a girl could make all the difference.

Visit the Dove website to explore the resources and have a conversation with the young person in your life to help build positive body confidence and self-esteem.

Together, we can help our young people develop the confidence they need to reach their full potential.


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