Watch: Eleven-year-old girl's powerful speech on gender stereotypes

An 11-year-old Auckland girl has given a powerful speech on gender stereotypes.

With a strong, confident delivery, Florence Akauola says the world will "never fully realise the untapped potential in every little princess" unless such stereotypes are broken.

The Mt Hobson Middle School pupil's speech won her the Villa Education Trust's speech competition.

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It was described as "simply inspirational" and "stunning" by the trust's academic manager, Alwyn Poole.

Akauola opens her speech with a question: "Sugar and spice and everything nice, that's what little girls are made of. Or is it?

"What does it mean to be a girl? Am I defined by the colour pink, a tube of lipgloss and a pair of high heels? Should I pull out a sewing kit, bake some cupcakes and do the washing?"

She tells the judges and the audience gathered at St Luke's Church, Remuera, that was never her. She "loved to play sports, have sword fights and race around the playground", and dress up as Spiderman and Batman.

"I hated wearing dresses, I've never liked Barbie, and my favourite colour was definitely not pink."

Because of this, Akauola says she was teased for not being "a real girl", and that a lot of people saw her as "different".

"I don't fit the gender stereotype," the Papatoetoe schoolgirl said.

But she calls out these stereotypes as society's making.

"I'm pretty sure no baby girl enters the world demanding a pink blanket.

"No, we as little girls are told by every aspect of society that we love pink."

People tell girls "what a pretty little princess we are", she said: "You don't hear people saying, 'wow, you're such a strong, smart girl'."

This just gets worse as girls get older, she said, and the labels "blind us, covering our eyes and smothering our hearts".

"We begin to lose sight of who we really are."

She questions the purpose of gender-based assumptions about what toys children should play with.

"Does it really matter if little girls play with cars and trucks? Maybe one day she'll grow up to be an awesome mechanic.

"Or what about little boys playing with dolls? At least we know he'll be a loving and kind dad when he's older."

She continues: "Girl, boy, or other gender, you should be who you want, believe what you want, and love who you want, without being judged criticised or hurtful."

Our bodies did not define us, she said.

Mt Hobson Middle School academic manager Alwyn Poole. Photo / file
Mt Hobson Middle School academic manager Alwyn Poole. Photo / file

"I am more than the body I was born in. Yes, I'm a girl, but that does not define everything about who I am.

She added: "Until we break these stereotypes we will never fully realise the untapped potential in every little princess.

"As for me I know my potential, I know my worth. This little princess will slay the dragon, rescue herself from the tower and definitely go down in history."

Poole said Akauola's speech was "absolutely exceptional".

The 11-year-old was an accomplished musician, both on the guitar and vocally, he said, and showed "some brilliant things for a person so young".

- NZ Herald

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