The 2012 Olympics is Teaching Girls to Dream Bigger

Gabby DouglasThe Olympics this year have been nothing short of inspiring, especially for girls and women across the globe. Despite your feelings on the various events, or sports in general, this year an entire generation of girls were given a new standard to which they can now dream.

But it’s not just about sports. It’s about stepping-stones. It’s about those moments in history when we can actually feel the global shift that is happening. The sudden shift in equality we’ve seen at these Olympics by no means is the end of a journey for the women and girls of the world. But it is the beginning of a new journey.  It is a beginning for a new generation of girls.

Most of the girls watching women make history during these Olympic games will not go on to compete in the Olympics (though some of course will). They will however go on to college. They will study science and history. They will become engineers and movie directors and writers and journalists. They will run for office. They will see only endless skies full of reachable stars where women before them saw only a glass ceiling. They will dream bigger than ever before.

There have been hundreds of amazing moments and we, like many other organizations, have been sharing as many as those moments as we can over the last two weeks. Here are just a few of the most memorable moments of the 2012 Olympics.

  • Nicola Adams and Katie Taylor became the first two female Olympic boxing champions.
  • Sarah Attar and Wojdan Shaherkani became the first female Olympians from Saudi Arabia.
  • For the first time in the history of the Summer Games, both male and female athletes represent every single one of the 204 competing nations at London 2012
  • Claressa Shields won the first US women's boxing gold in Olympic history.
  • Gabby Douglas became the first African American to win an all-around Olympic gold.
  • Noor al-Malki’s 100-meter run was the first Olympic event ever competed in by a woman from Qatar.
  • While Nur Suryani Mohd Taibi is technically the fourth pregnant Olympian, she will be going down in history as the most pregnant woman to ever compete in the Olympics, with a modified suit designed to enclose her eight-month baby bump.
  • Maziah Mahusin is Brunei's first and only female Olympian, and she carried the tiny sultanate's flag during the opening ceremonies. Side bar? She beat her PR by two seconds and set a national record while there.
  • Chinese swimmer Ye Shiwen not only won the gold in the 400m individual medley but she shattered the world record by a second (even passing up Ryan Lochte’s speed who had competed in the men’s version just minutes before). Then she followed up that win by doing it again with the 200-meter the following day.
  • Kayla Harrison, won the United States its first-ever gold medal in the sport of judo.
  • The U.S. Olympic Team, for the first time, has more women competitors than men: 269 to 261 (The Russian team also saw a female majority).
  • Egypt, despite its political instability, sent thirty-four female athletes, the largest delegation it has ever sent and the largest any Muslim nation has ever sent.
  • The last three countries that have never included women before: Saudi Arabia, Brunei, and Qatar all included women.
  • The total number of women taking part this year is 4,688, making up 46% of the Games' competitors.  For perspective: in 1908 male competitors outnumbered females 53 to one.
  • U.S. women earned 56 percent of the country's medals, and 66 percent of its golds. Which teaches an important lesson on the impact of Title IX. "Sports is ultimately about competition," said Mary Jo Kane, director of the Tucker Center for Research on Girls & Women in Sports. "The rest of the world sees the U.S. women, and their response is: 'This is what we need to do to beat them.' Women all over the world will benefit to see what happened when we took it seriously. In that sense, Title IX is one of the most successful and important pieces of civil rights legislation."

Is your favorite moment missing? Let us know in the comments or on Facebook and we’ll add it!

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