There can be little denying that the role of women in our society is changing. Frequently underrepresented, and constantly doubted in favor of male expertise women have decided that enough is enough. The issue of gender imbalance has never been so widely discussed or derided before.

The rise of the female boss is no longer in doubt

While there have always been strong females in every walk of life, increasing numbers of women are taking charge when it comes to business, politics, entertainment, technology, education and science. Considered male dominated realms until relatively recently these areas are becoming tipping points in the fight against female inequality. Indeed, Hilary Clinton’s stand during last year’s US campaign trail and election served as a reminder that women are ready to accept equal responsibility when it comes to running the world – and beyond.

Becoming a competent leader

It goes without saying that girls, and women, have the power and potential to excel in any industry they choose; if they’re given the right guidance during those formative years and into adulthood. It’s perhaps never been more important to teach girls, and young women, to become competent leaders – and utterly inspiring human beings. After all, how can we expect them to pursue such adventurous avenues if we’re not willing to show them the way?

Lead by example

If girls are to be a part of the dialogue surrounding gender equality it’s important for them to recognize the importance of leadership qualities, and to view such a trait as achievable in the first place. Girls should be able to grow up and enter education surrounded by good role models, and with the idea that leadership roles are theirs for the taking. They are likely to take inspiration from strong, female characters and figures at an early age, as well as being motivated by words of encouragement. Don’t be afraid to discuss your role models, or to show your own strength to your daughters, female friends and relatives, or students.

Access to the right education

The right education is essential for all children, teaching subjects and skills that will stand them in good stead for future careers and relationships. International schools are particularly accustomed to promoting qualities such as leadership, effective communication, and social responsibility, dealing as they do with children from a variety of different backgrounds. Girls thrive in such an environment, keeping up with their male counterparts at every turn. There are some fantastic international schools in Hong Kong that teach these qualities; each as valuable as the last when it comes to inspiring competent leadership. Choose your child’s school wisely, with these life lessons in mind.

In addition, There are a number of online resources that can help you improve your leadership skills. Books and articles on leadership can be helpful, as they provide insights and tips from experts in the field. Attending workshops and seminars on leadership can give you the opportunity to network with other leaders and learn new techniques. You can hire a leadership and communications expert or a public speaking coach for executives to get professional guidance and develop the skills needed to become an effective leader.

Teamwork and participation

If girls are to become competent leaders they must first discover the art of effective communication, and how to interpret group dynamic. Not all children are born leaders; some need to be shown what they’re capable of before they’re able to step up and take charge. Teamwork teaches a variety of valuable lessons from an early age, least of all how to handle developing situations and make quick decisions. Access to sports clubs and after school sessions will play an integral role in any girl’s childhood. Be sure to encourage your daughter, or students to get involved with the activities that interest them most – particularly if you’ve an especially shy girl in your midst.

Encourage accountability

Negotiation, delegation, decision-making, communication and perseverance are all important qualities and skills for leaders to possess; again, not all of these merits are acquired from birth. From childhood girls should be taught how to weigh up the pros and cons of every decision, communicate their needs and desires effectively, and negotiate fairly. They should also be shown how to handle failure, and to take accountability for their actions. Such lessons are vital for life, as well as paving the way for competent leadership. Remind your child that decisions should be made fairly, and discuss the kinds of bargains that might work in her favor.

Although times are changing, women continue to be sorely underrepresented across an array of industries, with females making up just 18.3% of Congress in 2013. The worlds of entertainment, business, and science are similarly represented. If gender equality is to gather any more headway it’s essential that tomorrow’s entrepreneurs, educators, politicians, and thinkers learn leaderships skills today; we must empower, and equip, girls to face their male counterparts with confidence – and to lead with conviction. It’s important to recognize that every child has the potential to succeed, and to fulfill his or her leadership potential. We simply need to show them the way, and to set a great example.