An open letter to my daughters
A mama to three young girls shares her hopes and dreams for their future in honor of International Women’s Day…
To my remarkable daughters,
March 8 is a very special day for me. Not only does it mark International Women’s Day and give us a chance to celebrate the achievements of women around the globe, it’s also the day that two of you came into this world.
What better way to celebrate IWD in 2016 than to give birth to twin daughters? I didn’t know how privileged I was to become a mother of three girls that day, but now I realize just how lucky I am.
Raising three daughters in our modern world is both an extraordinary privilege and a huge responsibility. Although we’ve come a long way on the road to gender equality, there are still a few things that I worry about…
Your body image and self-esteem
Traditional media and social media continue to perpetuate unrealistic beauty standards. Research shows that the more girls use social networking sites, the more likely they are to have poor body image and low self-esteem.
I hope that I can raise you to overlook these distorted ideals and love your bodies just the way they are. To that end, I promise to never criticize my appearance – or yours. I’ll only talk about your bodies as strong, powerful and awe-inspiring machines, but never as objects to be appraised for their beauty.
There are dangers lurking in the real world and online, but I hope to equip you with the necessary tools to protect yourself and fight back if you’re exposed to them. Remember that your mind is your most powerful weapon and that there’s strength in numbers. Surround yourself with smart, kick-ass women just like you and together you’ll form a formidable force. Trust your instincts – they’re always right.
At the same time, I believe that it’s never been a better time to be a woman. Women’s voices are louder than ever, and we’re actively fighting back against abuse and discrimination with movements such as #metoo and the IWD 2019 campaign theme #BalanceforBetter.
The world is starting to expect and demand gender balance, so I’m excited to see what we can achieve by the time you graduate from high school (and hopefully university). I feel optimistic when I think about…
Your employment opportunities
I know it’s a cliché when a parent says you can be anything you want in life, but thanks to the decades of hard work of women around the world, this statement is now true for girls as well as boys. Your thoughts, ideas, and opinions matter and will be valued in any sector. Whether that’s being a member of the United States Congress, leading a team of researchers in Antartica, investing in a tech start-up, teaching rowdy middle schoolers about the quadratic equation or directing the next Oscar Award Winning film, you have the capacity to thrive in this world. The best part: you don’t have to do just one thing. As you grow as a person, your skill set, passions and purpose may lead you to something else. Just remember: Choose work that matters to you. Choose projects that help society. Choose a path even if it’s scary. Can’t find a job you love? Create one.
Your generation’s evolved attitudes about equality
When I stumbled upon a recent news item that shared Millennials’ outrage over the “sexist” and “offensive” themes in 1999 cult classic American Pie, I was thrilled. I hated that movie when it came out, but when I tried to express my unpopular opinion to my friends at the time, they looked at me like I’d fallen from another planet. “What do you mean?! It’s SO funny!” Right – objectifying women and perpetuating misogynistic attitudes is so hilare *eyeroll*.
Well, Millennials agree with 21-year-old me because mindsets have gradually shifted over the past two decades. According to recent research by Nielsen, Millennial women are also more positive than Baby Boomers when it comes to their career prospects, their ability to obtain fair pay, their finances and overall gender equality.
By the time you enter the workforce two decades from now, we’ll have made even greater gains toward parity. We’ll look back at the state of women’s rights in 2019 with a mix of horror and disbelief. We’ll wonder how we managed to live with such blatant discrimination in every area of our lives.
YOU are the agents of change. You’re the next generation of fearless females and you’re going to show the world what you’re really made of – not sugar, spice and everything nice, but brains, brawn and grit.
I can’t wait to watch you march bravely into a new era where women are regarded as strong, powerful and equal to men. I’m not worried or scared for you after all – I’m filled with optimism and hope. You’ve got this, girls. I believe in you.