Today on International Women’s Day, I am reminded of how far we have come, how deserving we are, but also of how far we still have to go. This is the third year that Gender Across Borders and CARE have hosted Blog for International Women’s Day. There are over 200 blogs participating in this uplifting event, and I am happy to count myself among them for the first time; this year’s theme is “Connecting Girls, Inspiring Futures.”
At times, I feel very discouraged when I think about the challenges that we still face, and the ones that our girls will face as they grow; the battles my daughter will endure.
In today’s world, many still view women as being an “inferior” sex, and you can see this mentality reflected back to us in many areas of our lives. Women make less money, have less opportunities for promotional opportunities. We are told how to birth our children, and how to feed them. As women, we are objectified; society defines our sexuality for us, placing value on our bodies. Literal value.
We live in a culture where sexual violence against women has been normalized. It isn’t uncommon to hear people “poke fun” at the issue of rape, especially in the entertainment industry, and to blame the victims of sexual assaults, because of course no woman would get raped if she weren’t “asking” for it, if she hadn’t dressed so “slutty”, or acted like she wanted it… well, you know, until she didn’t.
All of these things are apparently okay through the eyes of our society. We have inadequate laws established to help prevent or to punish people that would take our human rights away from us, and on the political level there seems to be a big push bent among some politicians on serving their own moral agendas, at the expense of our rights.
So yes, discrimination towards women is not dead, and will affect us throughout our lifetimes. When I think about how we as a culture, and as individuals can educate and inspire girls in a positive way, my first thought seems to stem back to parents. We need to start at home. We don’t live in a world that looks out for our best interests, so that task is left to us; it is our responsibility to teach this to our growing girls, and the time to start is now.
As women, we first have to stop hating ourselves. Hating ourselves for not measuring up, or because we feel inferior, and to stop hating other women that don’t embrace the dogma we have adopted as defining womanhood.
This is about RE-teaching ourselves, and passing on empowerment to our children. Positive empowerment. Though, this isn’t just about what we can do for our girls, this is also about our boys. We can set positive examples for them, teach love and respect, for all people. We need to show them that they ARE capable of anything, and that society, with it’s labels that they like to place on our sexes, does not define us. Those labels are not an indicator of who we are, or what we should be, and that we have the capacity for so much more than being a label.
My daughter, Addison, is about to turn two. She does not yet understand the world that we live in, but it one of my biggest goals to prepare her for it. I want her to value herself and others, stand strong and loud, and always be willing to fight for the things that she believes in.
Our children, all of our children, will be the key to a more inspiring future.
(Note to readers: It doesn’t miss my attention that some of the issue’s I have raised do not apply solely to women. 🙂 )