LONDON, United Kingdom — Established in 2018 in celebration of Barbie’s 60th anniversary and making their first donation of $250,000 in March 2019, the Barbie Dream Gap Project aims to break down gender stereotypes internalized by girls as young as 5 to inspire them to aim high and fulfill their potential.
The dream gap is defined as “a phenomenon where young girls, due to social constructions that women are less capable and valuable than men, are held back from living up to their full potential.”
To close the Dream Gap, the Project has donated over $2 million since its inauguration to partner organizations across the globe specializing in mentoring, skills development and leadership, such as Girls Write Now and She’s The First.
This donation allows such organizations to equip and empower girls and young women with the necessary skills to enter the workplace, armed with the knowledge that, like the doll to which the project owes its name, they can be anything. Closing the dream gap is fast becoming a reality.
Just the Dream Gap?
This mission has powerful and transformative consequences, not just for the 25 million young women that the Barbie Dream Gap Project has helped educate and empower.
A report from the McKinsey Global Institute, published in September 2015, concluded that if female participation level in the global job market was equal to that of men by 2025, global GDP could increase by as much as $12 trillion annually. This impact is roughly equivalent to the size of the 2015 U.S. and Chinese economies combined.
Opportunities for Women Are Key to a Wealthier World
To solve this disparity, the report emphasizes fundamental changes that the Barbie Dream Gap project is helping to make possible.
They highlight the importance of reforming attitudes towards gender in paid work, advocate for capability building to ensure that girls and women receive education and training for high-productivity jobs and leadership roles and promote female role models and grassroots workshops.
Such endeavors prove particularly impactful in developing countries such as India, where, as shown by a 2021 International Association for Research in Income and Wealth (IARIW) study, the participation of Indian women in paid work continues to decline.
In 2019, the Barbie Dream Gap Project pledged grants and donations to the international non-profit “She’s The First” to fully fund empowering education for 300 girls in developing countries for one year, including in India.
This education included activities to encourage career-orientated aspirations and workshops to inspire girls to see themselves in leadership and employment.
Aside from allowing individual girls and young women to change their stories and break out of the cycle of poverty, increasing female participation in the workforce through closing the dream gap also has powerful ramifications for India’s economy.
According to a 2022 analysis from Bloomberg Economics, closing the employment gap between men and women could expand India’s GDP by almost a third by 2050. This change would make for powerful developments in ending poverty on a national and personal level.
She’s the First… But not the Last
And for the Barbie Dream Gap Project, this is just the beginning. More recently, as of July 2023, in celebrating the premier of the Barbie movie, the Project has joined with Save the Children to spread the transformative power of closing the dream gap in the fight against global poverty.
Through work centered specifically on the Kailahun district in Sierra Leone, the collaboration aims to provide girls with the supplies to attend school, the skills to launch sustainable careers and the support to advocate for themselves and their communities.
Through transforming the lives of individual girls and women across the globe, the Barbie Dream Gap Project is helping to create a world in which the dream of ending global poverty is fast becoming a reality, a world in which, as in the pink-hued halls of “Barbieland,” women have a powerful role to play.
– Izzy Grout