8 March 2017

Dream the impossible dream #iwd

This morning I was explaining to my daughters that today is International Women's Day.

I ramped them up a little on the walk to school, calling out "WHO RUNS THE WORLD?" and they would yell back "GIRLS!".

"But why do we have a girls day?" says Cassidy.

"Because women united can not be divided," replies Tully knowledgeably.  No prizes for guessing who came along to the Women's March with me in January.

I explained to them that today was about celebrating all the great things women have achieved all over the world, but also bringing attention to areas that women don't have it so great. I tried to explain inequality as simply as possible, but Cassidy wasn't having a bar of it.

"But girls can do everything! Everything!"

And right there, that very moment, was why we have International Women's Day.  Somewhere between when we are almost five years old and later on in life, that simple belief in our capabilities and our opportunities, becomes eroded.

It's not just men. Women do it to other women. Most damagingly, we learn to do it ourselves by modelling our own thoughts and behaviours on the people around us.

We can discuss and challenge the external factors that contribute to inequality, misogyny and sexism. And we should. Repeatedly. Tirelessly. Relentlessly.

But we need to ask ourselves what role we play individually in perpetuating inequality.

I mean it's not like people haven't been putting in the hard yards for us in previous years.  From Emmeline Pankhurst to Malala to Katherine Johnson we have a plethora of determined, intelligent and hellacious women to inspire us.

But our children - both daughters and sons - don't need them to start with. They need us to step up and be mindful of our own behaviours and attitudes and how they impact the small people around us.

They need us to treat them the same way we want the rest of the people in the world to treat each other.  Irrespective of gender.

We need to be the change of which we speak. We need to be bold. We need to be unrelenting and fierce in the championing of our children - so that they know they are valued, respected and that there is nothing to fear in difference.

We need to be an example of how to live humanely, compassionately and fairly.

We need to speak kindly and encouragingly to our children.

We need to give them boundaries without crushing them.

We need to believe in them before they know to doubt themselves.

We need to love them.  Unconditionally.

We need to give them an education so that they are not only taught to read but to think.

We need to avoid labelling them based on their behaviours or bad days.

We need to fight for them so they are not alone.

We need to show them how to apologise without living apologetically.

We need them to know that what they think is more important than how they look.

We need to teach them to judge a person by their character and not by their shoes.

We need to allow them to be their own person irrespective of gender norms or our own comfort zones.

We need to teach them to stand up for others.

We need to teach them to stand up for themselves.

We need them to learn to articulate their emotions.

We need to show them how to proactively change the world around them.

We have to show them how to shout, how to rage and how to be angry.

We have to allow them to call us out when we don't act as we ask them to act.

We need to teach them to be defiant.

We need to give them the respect we expect them to give others.

We need them to learn how to be wrong by being open when we are wrong.

We need them to know that hitting somebody for any reason at all is wrong. It is definitely not love.

We need to fill them full of confidence and not arrogance.

We need to teach them to challenge the status quo.

We should never utter the words 'What will people think?'

We should let them be loud.

We should never say "boys will be boys" or "that is not very ladylike".

We should encourage them to ask questions.

Most of all,

We need to love them so much that even when they doubt themselves, they don't doubt that they are loveable, worthy and capable.

And then, tomorrow?

Tomorrow, we need to do it again. And then again.

We dream the impossible dream.

Until we live the life we imagined.

(Well get on with then....)

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