Teen girls urged to admire Role Model Spice

A PANEL of "role models" for teenage girls, including celebrities such as the former Spice Girl Geri Halliwell, the heptathlete Denise Lewis, and the pop starlet Billie, is to be set up by the Government as part of its drive to promote the role of women in society.

Baroness Jay, Minister for Women, will tomorrow announce that teenage girls have been identified as a priority area, amid concerns that they are more likely to "drop out" than boys are.

Ministers will set up an advisory group of female high-flyers to act as role models to teenage girls. Ms Halliwell, recently appointed a United Nations ambassador and an advocate of "girl power", has expressed interest in joining.

Other celebrities likely to be approached include the actress Emma Thompson and the therapist Susie Orbach. They will work with less well known successful women in arguing that teenage girls should have higher aspirations.

"Role models are very important in the development of teenage girls," Lady Jay said. "We are trying to create a group of people we can use to be that." Ministers also plan to send girls on "awaydays" where they will be able to discuss issues such as sex and drugs with professional counsellors away from the classroom.

Teachers will be asked to identify school-leavers who have successfully made the transition to work who can attend as well. Members of the "role model panel" could be invited. "It's no good having a teacher who teaches geography in the morning and contraception in the afternoon," Lady Jay said. "We want to take it out of that context."

The Government has been prompted to act by research showing that girls out-perform boys during their early school years, then fall behind. Ministers are worried about increasing drug and alcohol abuse among girls, and the rising number of "girl gangs".

The drive to tackle problems among girls is part of a wider initiative to help women. The women's unit, set up by Harriet Harman last year and being relaunched tomorrow, has been moved to the Cabinet Office.

Lady Jay wants to replace old style feminism with an attempt to tackle bread-and-butter issues that concern women, such as income, health and education.

She would not describe herself as a feminist, she said. "In politics, feminism is seen as negative, complaining about things; it's perceived to be about separateness, putting up a brick wall between men and women. I don't think you have to be negative like that."

Ministers and officials will be sent a document this week that tells them to vet all proposals for their implications for women, members of ethnic minorities and disabled people. It is signed by Lady Jay, Jack Straw, Home Secretary, and David Blunkett, Education and Employment Secretary.

Four Page Focus special: Pages 20-23

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Voices
An easy-peel potato; Dave Hax has come up with an ingenious method in food preparation
voicesDave Hax's domestic tips are reminiscent of George Orwell's tea routine. The world might need revolution, but we like to sweat the small stuff, says DJ Taylor
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Jay Z has placed a bet on streaming being the future for music and videos
music
Arts and Entertainment
Festival-goers soak up the atmosphere at Glastonbury
music
News
Japan's population is projected to fall dramatically in the next 50 years (Wikimedia)
news
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Project Implementation Executive

£18000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They work with major vehicle ma...

Recruitment Genius: Chiropractic Assistant

£16500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Chiropractic Assistant is needed in a ...

Recruitment Genius: Digital Account Executive - Midlands

£18000 - £26000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They work with major vehicle ma...

Recruitment Genius: Web Developer

£28000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company provides coaching ...

Day In a Page

NHS struggling to monitor the safety and efficacy of its services outsourced to private providers

Who's monitoring the outsourced NHS services?

A report finds that private firms are not being properly assessed for their quality of care
Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

The Tory MP said he did not want to stand again unless his party's manifesto ruled out a third runway. But he's doing so. Watch this space
How do Greek voters feel about Syriza's backtracking on its anti-austerity pledge?

How do Greeks feel about Syriza?

Five voters from different backgrounds tell us what they expect from Syriza's charismatic leader Alexis Tsipras
From Iraq to Libya and Syria: The wars that come back to haunt us

The wars that come back to haunt us

David Cameron should not escape blame for his role in conflicts that are still raging, argues Patrick Cockburn
Sam Baker and Lauren Laverne: Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

A new website is trying to declutter the internet to help busy women. Holly Williams meets the founders
Heston Blumenthal to cook up a spice odyssey for British astronaut manning the International Space Station

UK's Major Tum to blast off on a spice odyssey

Nothing but the best for British astronaut as chef Heston Blumenthal cooks up his rations
John Harrison's 'longitude' clock sets new record - 300 years on

‘Longitude’ clock sets new record - 300 years on

Greenwich horologists celebrate as it keeps to within a second of real time over a 100-day test
Fears in the US of being outgunned in the vital propaganda wars by Russia, China - and even Isis - have prompted a rethink on overseas broadcasters

Let the propaganda wars begin - again

'Accurate, objective, comprehensive': that was Voice of America's creed, but now its masters want it to promote US policy, reports Rupert Cornwell
Why Japan's incredible long-distance runners will never win the London Marathon

Japan's incredible long-distance runners

Every year, Japanese long-distance runners post some of the world's fastest times – yet, come next weekend, not a single elite competitor from the country will be at the London Marathon
Why does Tom Drury remain the greatest writer you've never heard of?

Tom Drury: The quiet American

His debut was considered one of the finest novels of the past 50 years, and he is every bit the equal of his contemporaries, Jonathan Franzen, Dave Eggers and David Foster Wallace
You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

Dave Hax's domestic tips are reminiscent of George Orwell's tea routine. The world might need revolution, but we like to sweat the small stuff, says DJ Taylor
Beige is back: The drab car colours of the 1970s are proving popular again

Beige to the future

Flares and flounce are back on catwalks but a revival in ’70s car paintjobs was a stack-heeled step too far – until now
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's dishes highlight the delicate essence of fresh cheeses

Bill Granger cooks with fresh cheeses

More delicate on the palate, milder, fresh cheeses can also be kinder to the waistline
Aston Villa vs Liverpool: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful,' says veteran Shay Given

Shay Given: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful'

The Villa keeper has been overlooked for a long time and has unhappy memories of the national stadium – but he is savouring his chance to play at Wembley
Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own - Michael Calvin

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own