Monday 8th March is International Women’s day so we should give all those mums, grandmas, sisters, dads and caregivers all over the globe, a huge pat on the back for encouraging and raising these incredible little women and nurturing the next generation of strong, compassionate and driven women – you rock!
It’s a crazy world we are living in right now, post Trump, METOO, gender equality, when all that gets mixed up parents have a mighty responsibility sitting on their shoulders and now more than ever our girls are watching us. We can’t expect our daughters not to become ‘mean girls’ if they hear their role models being spiteful about friends or not supporting and cheering women as they rise. Choose your words carefully as what we give, always comes back to us. Kids are shaped by their mentors, they mimic behaviours and learn how to control their emotions, handle challenges and react to particular situations from the women they are surrounded by, if you want to raise a strong girl – you must act like a strong woman. In a world that often gives our girls so many oppositional messages, empowering them is key.
Empower Your Girls
Harmony between mothers and daughters isn’t always the easiest of minefields to navigate but anchoring them, listening and empowering them is one of the most important jobs we have as a parent. We can’t spend little time nurturing our girls and then suddenly when they are in their teens, expect them to become our best friends, it doesn’t just happen. We must lay the foundations for all their trusting female friendships they will develop throughout their lives. We must teach them that seeing other girls do well, should inspire them to do good as well and be happy for the other person. It’s a well known fact that women compete with women, more than they do with men, go figure! But this takes work – ask any mother of a teenage daughter this, there’s no doubt about it!
International women’s day is a great way to kick-start conversations about gender equality, look at the global achievements of women in politics, science, economics and those closer to home. Share with them your own stories of adversity, how your Grandma rose to the challenges of WW2, how your own mother juggled working and motherhood, how their female teachers have managed a global pandemic with kids of their own at home. You don’t have to look too far for local heroines especially over the last year, they come in all shapes & sizes!
Gender equality and female empowerment starts at home, sorry guys but in order to get rid of those pesky gender stereotypes, we must raise questions, challenge what we hear and encourage our girls (and boys) to speak up, some things are just not OK anymore and our girls must break that ground. Remember if Hermione Granger can do it, on and off screen so can they! “Women feel like we need permission… we need to lead and change that” Emma Watson.
Some of those old gender stereotype phrases need to be literally eliminated from our vocabulary, “you run like a girl” think Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce crowned the fastest woman in the world! “Boys can’t dance” – think Billy Elliott, and my personal peeve “Boys don’t cry!” In 2021, girls are not limited by their gender (and neither should be boys) so encourage your girls to try football, remind them it’s OK not to like dresses or wear pink and to be mindful and include that little boy in their ballet class. It’s important that we arm our daughters with self-confidence and an amazing sense of self-worth so they can stand up for themselves and others, this way they can fight for what they deserve later in life, equal opportunity, equal pay and the strength to walk away from dangerous situations because they are worth more.
The Power of WORDS
Talk to your girls in the right way, yes they may look beautiful but remember to comment on a book they have read, a kind comment made, don’t make everything about their looks, learn to empower them, not objectify them. We love the books and movies from A Mighty girl The world’s largest collection of books, toys and movies for smart, confident, and courageous girls. Let’s face it, even Disney is looking at their girls in a more kick-ass way, move over Sleeping Beauty waiting to be rescued and hello Mulan & Moana! The way we speak to our girls impacts their daily lives and words have so much power, our words become their inner voice, and their inner voice builds their inner qualities. Some great phrases to empower your daughter are:
- You are more than just a pretty face.
- Girls can do ANYTHING a boy can do.
- Colours are not gender specific, we love a brute force Dad in a pink shirt and Mum in a top hat!
- It’s OK to play with any toys, don’t just guide them towards the pink aisle in the toy store.
- You are strong, you’ve got this – help them stop the cycle of comparison.
- Setbacks are part of life, dust yourself off and straighten your crown.
- Name your emotions, it’s OK to cry.
- And my favourite, model kindness. Girls can still be Bad-Ass and show kindness, when did being kind become a weakness!
We all want our daughters to be the real-life super girls they were meant to be so let’s arm them with the tools to achieve this.
“Women like men should try to do the impossible. And when they fail, their failure should be a challenge to others.” Amelia Earhart.