So much focus these days is on ourselves as women and where we are right now; our feminist ideals, our plans, dreams and vision. And that is damn right! But never let us forget our girl selves. ‘How could we!’ I hear you cry, but we could. And we do.
I say ‘we’, but in truth, I mean ‘the world’. And I’m not talking about us literally forgetting about our own daughters, or sisters, or nieces – I’m talking about the importance of paying close attention to the landscape they are growing up in. The narrative they experience; the undertones, the said and unsaid, the absolute minefield of mixed feelings that is social media and its’ effects on young, growing female minds.
Granted our society is an evolved, modern one where possibilities and life’s potential is quite clearly laid out. Where our parenting, for the most part, is enlightened. Our young girls don’t face challenges that other societies do, where life itself is in question. Or where choice is absent. But we (again at world level) could still be mindful of nurturing more hope, more choice, more inspiration.
Remember when you were a girl, and you dreamed of what you wanted to be when you grew up? Remember the feeling of being able to do anything? That large format thinking, that nothing would stand in your way of being a scientist/artist/queen/truck driver…
Then as you progress, things become a little more streamlined. In school, you begin to be pigeon-holed – Hell, you even pigeon-hole yourself at times. It’s that that we need to be careful of. Putting girls in boxes they don’t need to be in, boxes that restrain their beautiful thoughts and creativity.
Well, it’s up to us older girls to be watchful. To make sure this doesn’t continue to happen. To showcase hope and ideas and to offer support and counsel, be it fanning the fire of a young girls’ abandoned dream, or listening to them as they learn to navigate the complications of growing up. Above all, we need to be a strong force for our girls – they must never feel alone or misunderstood. They must not only be told they can do what they choose, but they must believe it. And it’s us who will pass this down – our faith in them becomes their own strong self-esteem. The more we listen, the more they feel heard, valued and respected. The more they are respected, the more they will, in turn, respect others. And that, my friends, is the cornerstone of feminism. As with everything we do, we leave an emotional legacy.
International Women’s Day always brings this quote to my mind, ‘Here’s to strong women. May we know them. May we be them. May we raise them’.