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Paloma Faith: I’m raising my child gender-neutral to avoid stereotypes

British singer Paloma Faith poses for photographers at the European premiere of the film “Miss You Already” in London September 17, 2015 – Image: REUTERS/Neil Hall

British singer Paloma Faith said she is raising her child gender neutral to avoid damaging stereotypes, as she threw her weight behind a campaign for girls’ equality on Wednesday.

Faith, who has refused to make public the sex of her one-year-old, said she encountered gender expectations “all the time” but hoped to give her child space to grow without the pressure of preconceptions.

“I’m just raising my child to be who they are,” Faith, 37, told the Thomson Reuters Foundation in an interview.

“I don’t differentiate gender because I don’t believe you should to a young child.”

Faith, named best British female solo artist at the Brit Awards in 2015, was speaking for the launch of charity Plan International’s Girls Get Equal campaign, on the eve of International Day of the Girl on Thursday.

The campaign aims to support young women to drive change for gender equality.

Girls face discrimination around the world and lag behind in terms of power, voice and leadership, said Plan International.

They are one and half times more likely than boys to miss out on primary education, while violence against girls is so normal that many see it as an “an accepted part of being female”, it said.

They are also paid less. Last year, the World Bank said women will have to wait 217 years to earn the same as men and have equality at work, and the gap is widening.

Faith, who has spoken about being raised by a single mother, said much of her success was down to the support of other women, but she was frustrated that equality was not coming fast enough for today’s children.

“I feel like it’s not far along as it should be and I don’t feel like there has been major amount of progress since my generation,” she said.

Paloma added that a more female-led society would be kinder and free of bureaucracy, which she said is “definitely invented by men”.

The Girls Get Equal campaign, co-organised with youth activists, will include more than 1,000 events held across 70 countries.

It will support youth activists and advocates to take part in direct action to advance girls’ rights within their communities, and fund work to support girls and young women.

“It’s girls’ turn to take the lead – to be seen, heard and valued as equals,” said Anne-Birgitte Albrectsen, Plan International’s chief executive.

“The world needs a game changer and young people have the power and ideas to make this happen.”

-Sonia Elks, Thomson Reuters Foundation

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