The stigma of being female is the crux of a myriad of problems facing our young women. It acts a curse or a slur to last a lifetime from the moment the girl is born. The problem predominantly exists in Asia and Africa where males are assigned more value but the rest of the world is still guilty of wanting a male heir.
The preference for a male is predicated either on the notion of vanity in the Western world, to carry on the family name, or for economic reasons, the male will go out to work to bring money back into the family home.
Hollow as these reasons seem to me as a feminist, girls are being killed in some parts of the world-Gendercide-for these reasons. This is the extreme result of the stigmatisation of girls on a continuum line which, at the lower end, sees girls not being encouraged to be aspirational but, rather, to conform to the patriarchal stereotype of wanting to look beautiful with the sole aim of marrying a rich man. In between lies a sliding scale of the repression and the stigmatisation of females.
Patriarchy is the bogeyman in all this and is emmeshed in the world's cultures, secular establishments and religious practices. Patriachy is a pervasive discriminant. It is only by challenging it at every turn can our girls grow up safely and aspire to greatness.