A few weeks ago I posted some Instagram stories featuring Girltivity boxes, a monthly subscription offering developmentally appropriate projects, inspiration, and activities. I knew the response would be good, and I got lots of messages from moms with a similar sentiment to me of “Wow. I would love this for my daughter”.
The Girltivity boxes are beautifully and brilliantly thought out, and they’re made to build girls’ confidence and problem-solving skills, in what Girltivity calls “STEAMED UP” – science, technology, engineering, art, maths, entrepreneurship, design, understanding and practice.
Each box comes with crafts and activities, and you don’t need anything else outside of the box (literally) to make the projects – even scissors are included, and everything has been curated superbly.
The founder of Girltivity is Romona Mahadeo, who along with seven-year-old daughter Kiara created Girltivity. I asked Romona some questions about how she started, Kiara’s influence in the boxes, and why activities like these are so important.
What made you come up with the boxes?
My daughter Kiara loves unboxing videos. She makes boxes for family and friends. She even managed to get paid for some. She believes opening up a fun-filled box can make anyone happy.
When Kiara was five she was curious about who the first South African female in space was. I told her there has been no South African female that has been to space. She excitedly replied, “We have to tell all the girls that they can do it. They can be the first in space.”
The more I researched female role models, women in STEM constantly popped up. I reviewed statistics about women and I was disappointed. I was determined to teach my daughters more about STEAM while celebrating women who made the world better.
Geared to challenging the mindset of our next generation. This is how we created the Girltivity ‘STEAMED UP’ box (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, Math, Entrepreneurship, Design, Understanding and Practice)
What kind of gap are the boxes filling?
The problem I have found is that female history is not actively taught in the formal education sector. Imagine for a moment a child being introduced to 12 fearless female role models whilst doing
fun filled activities in the comfort of her own home. Celebrating females and being inspired to dream big.
At the same time, we understand life gets busy so we designed the Girltivity box with everything you will need in one box and delivered to your door for your convenience. Each activity explains the skill to be learnt, the time it will take, how messy it is, how much adult supervision is required in order for parents to schedule quality, screen free time with their kids.
How does Kiara help with the boxes?
Kiara decides what kids want, what is fun and most importantly, what makes kids happy. She chooses the female role model of the month and decides what the best activities are.
She is extremely critical of what goes into the box. Kiara is often quick to remind us that Girltivity is her business and the boxes are her idea and the rest of us are making her dream come true.
How do you come up with all the activities?
We spend hours in the library and buy many books. We search the internet on a big screen TV so everyone can be a part of the discussion process.
Once we decide which activities are super cool, we then go to the experts for advice. We research, try and test all activities which is the most fun part. Developing each box theme as a family and a team.
What are you hoping that girls will get out of the boxes?
I want girls to celebrate and embrace just being girls and the very things that make them different. Sally Ride said “you can’t be what you can’t see”. I want girls to be inspired to dream big by introducing them to fearless female role models.
Learn through play and explore what they would love to do in their own way. To shape the confident future leader that her 20-year-old self will be proud to be.
Your boxes are crafted with so much attention and care. Does anyone help you to put them together?
Oh yes! We have a dream team. The whole family discuss female role models and play lots of games (STEAMED UP activities). We consult experts in each theme about activities, lessons to be learnt and even how to package items. Kiara is tasked with creating the characters and games. The illustrator brings our ideas to life.
My husband aka dad sources quality products from around the world and makes certain we follow the budget. Mireya my youngest daughter is always excited to play and has earned the spot as no. 1 product tester.
Once our editors finalise a box we take it to print. Then the whole family and many helpers get started with packaging. I pretty much manage everybody and everything else. Kiara has the final say on a lot of decisions when it comes to content creation as we have learnt to trust her opinion.
With so many toys becoming “gender neutral”, why did you opt for a girl specific product?
Girls have been changing the world for pretty much forever and have seldomly being recognised for their achievements. We want girls to celebrate being female and doing it her way.
I created this product based on my daughter’s needs and my wants. However teaching kids female history and STEAMED UP is not only for girls. I think it would also teach boys to respect and value a girls worth. Working together equally in a team for the greater good of humankind.
What’s next on your radar?
I want to expand on Kiara’s ideas whether it is in fashion, literature, beauty, science or technology. She is always busy doing something. Girltivity is here and ready to build a brand that supports and encourages girls to be their best self. Girl + Creativity + Positivity = Girltivity
Need to knows
Boxes start at R425 a month, but get cheaper if you sign up for longer. For example a three-month subscription will cost R399, and for six months it is R375.
You can also buy bundled boxes, and once-off gifts (this would be incredible for the festive season, especially if you’re travelling and looking for things to do).
More about women and STEM
Romona gave us the following stats:
According to UNESCO statistics, women make
up only 23% of STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) talent globally, and this inequality is often felt in South Africa’s science, technology and engineering industries.
In fact, global statistics also show that;
• From primary to high school girls self-esteem and confidence drops 3.5 times more than boys.
hold less than 23% of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) jobs.
hold only 15-25% of TOP decision-making positions.
• Only 3% of female-driven startups get funded.
has shown that girls in a girls-only school were stronger, confident and more capable of becoming leaders.