Saturday, 8 March 2014

To Eleanor, on International Womens Day 2014

Dear Eleanor

It is Saturday 8th March 2014. You are two years old. I wonder how old you'll be when you come to read this?

It's a strange world we live in right now, Eleanor. A world where, despite all the progress we have seen over the last century, women are still too often treated like second-class citizens.

A world where some girls feel forced to give up education when their periods start because they don't have access to decent sanitary products.

Where one girl was shot in the head for daring to suggest that girls have an equal right to education.

Where far too many women live in fear of domestic violence.

Where women are expected to treat harassment on the streets as a compliment.

Where a national newspaper - yes, NEWSpaper - deems it right to devote its third page to an image of a topless woman every day.

Where the books you read are almost always boy-heavy, as are some of the TV programmes you watch, as if the population wasn't really 50% female.

Where clothes for girls as young as, and younger than, you encourage them to aspire to be a princess, look pretty and be generally pleasing, when boys are encouraged to 'be the boss'.

I could go on.

But there is hope, Eleanor. Projects are cropping up providing girls with the sanitary products that will enable them to complete their education. The girl who was shot in the head? She survived, and is now doing amazing things to promote equality in education. More and more people are speaking out about violence and harassment towards women. There is a thriving campaign to end Page 3. And parents and children alike are finding a voice to protest about the sexism seen in products aimed at children.

When you do come to read this, Eleanor, whether that is in 10, 15 or 20 years' time, I hope you shake your head in wonder. I hope by then you will live in a world where all people are seen as equal, as having a right to education, dignity, safety and representation regardless of gender.

I am trying to be part of the change. I hope you will be too. Better still, I hope you will not need to be, because change will no longer be needed.

Happy International Womens Day.

Love, Mum

2 comments:

  1. I LOVE this post. There are many things wrong about the way society still views women, but there are also great projects that give me hope for the future. I hope our daughters will know a world where they are truly equal, not one where they have to point out that they are equal.

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    1. Thank you! I agree, it would be lovely to get to a point where we don't even have to talk about equality any more. Maybe the next generation will see that change. I hope so anyway.

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