When I found out I was going to have a daughter, I was excited and nervous all at the same time. I was happy because I knew I could build a strong connection and felt, as a single mom, a little girl was a blessing for me. On the other hand, I felt apprehensive because being a girl in this world is no easy task.
Between sexual exploitation, unfair treatment in the working world, and an ever-continuing expectation for girls to be sweet and never get dirty, it is tough to be a strong woman. Due to the unfortunate reality of genetics, my daughter also never had a choice in being a stubborn, strong-willed, and loud female — which makes her lot in life that much more challenging, but a great adventure as well.
I come from a long line of strong women. My mother was a single mom who raised me to be tough as nails, and yet always show compassion. No matter how tired she was from working full-time, she always had time to listen to my problems or bandage a wounded knee. She also taught me that no matter how little you think you have, you are always more empowered when you give to others. I try my hardest to teach my daughter the power of solidarity and giving between women.
My mom once told me that it takes a village to raise a child. I can’t possibly count the number of inspirational and beautiful women who have helped me so far in my daughter’s life. I’m lucky my daughter has so many ladies too look up to.
Women are a force of nature when they come together, whether it be to help raise a child or make a dramatic change in the world. Solidarity is integral for making change and promoting healthy relationships between women. I can only hope that all of the garbage out there about women tearing each other down will be something my daughter advocates against as strongly as I do.
I have also taught my daughter about the importance of surrounding yourself with male figures who empower women. I am proud to say that many men in our lives are deeply supportive and fundamentally giving towards my little family. It seems my daughter is growing up in a world where men are changing as much as women when it comes to feminism. I am compelled to give a major shout-out to many of my millenial male friends out there — your mothers are proud.
My grandmother was yet another inspiration for my daughter and I. She taught me to always pursue what you love no matter what other people say you can or cannot do. She achieved a university degree in fine arts from Mount Allison University in 1958, and was the only woman in her class. She was also a single-working mom in the 1970s and pursued her art with a passion, not letting the judgements of others stand in her way.
I take my grandmother’s teachings and apply them to my daughter when it comes to her dreams. There is no single way to be a girl, or a woman. My daughter has the option to grow up to be an artist, a mathematician, an opera singer, or a mechanic if she wishes. The opportunities she has are seemingly endless.
Similar to my grandmother’s history, International Women’s Day reminds us there was a time when these choices were not so easy for women. Every time women get to vote, or to step through an office door, silently thank the women who made this possible and remember the shame and adversity women had to fight through to get us there.
The first International Women’s Day was celebrated on 1909 after thousands of women marched in New York for better pay and the right to vote. By 1975, the United Nations declared International Women’s Day as an officially recognized celebration and it was celebrated by many countries after this event, and continues today.
In the present, many people believe the fight for women has been won, but this is not so. We must teach our daughters the power of women who work together, to surround ourselves with men who empower women, and in turn invigorate ourselves to pursue our dreams.
And finally, we must teach our daughters to remember the women who came before us, and honour their achievements around the world.