I decided to kick off Women’s History Month by starting a dialogue with my closest female friends, family members, and colleagues. I wanted to share with both of my girls the importance of Women’s History Month, the contributions of women in society, and to dissuade them of any notion that may arise as they get older and become more integrated in society as young ladies. You see, these two girls are my world. They’re only 9.5 and 8 years old… they still have so far to go and before their minds are shaped by the thoughts and opinions of others, I wanted to get in ahead of it and provide them some real context. #realtalk
Yesterday morning, I began messaging over 40 women, ages ranging from 23 to 76, to ask them various questions on women’s rights, women’s history and movements across the nation. I asked them what it meant, in their opinion, to be a woman. I asked what qualities a woman needed to have in order to make further progress in women’s rights. I asked them what advice they would give to my two little girls, and all the other beautiful young ladies – most of whom aren’t being educated on the women’s rights fought for by all the strong and courageous women before us and among us. I thought it was important for the girls to hear about this, not just from my perspective, but the perspectives of the strong females who they also know and love… their grandmothers, aunts, friends’ mothers, etc.
Let me first say that I was moved by all of the women who responded. My questions were met with enthusiasm, and several turned into dialogues. I was impressed by the time that was taken to respond and the knowledge and power that these women held. If I needed a dose of inspiration yesterday, there would have been no shortage… So, thank you to all of you lovely ladies who took the time to respond to me. I am so excited to share your words below. ❤ I am so proud to know you.
I was so excited to introduce this topic at the dinner table… to kick off Women’s History Month with my two beautiful littles and teach them about what it means to be a woman, the history of what women have and still overcome, and how to live in a society that seems to be regressing… it was a privilege. While I shared this two-page spread of information, I am proud to say that Adam sat next to me, engaging in the discussion with the girls, chiming in on important dates and supporting me in this discussion. I was impressed that they listened, engaged, asked questions, and even echoed their own knowledge of women in history and what they believe it means to be a woman. I heard my 9.5 year old use words like strong and proud. I could see her being inspired and empowered. I wondered if my 8 year old was paying attention at times, but when I revisited the discussion while tucking her into bed, I asked her what she learned… and to my surprise, she recalled some important and profound bits of information. It’s a start, I thought. I can’t wait to hear how their perspectives and input changes year over year.
I didn’t share with the girls my own countless experiences of being disrespected as women, passed up on job offers and projects, paid less than my male counterpart, silenced and talked over, discriminated while pregnant (and then some), stalked, cat-called, objectified, feelings of fear and vulnerability in certain situations merely for being a women, and all the in-between… but I do plan to share this with them when appropriate in the years to come because I think it’s important to draw off the stories and experiences of others, being called to expect higher standard than those who came before us, and stand in the privilege of being a woman.
With that, I will leave you with this quote, “Empowering women empower women.”… and young ladies…
On behalf of all my lovely ladies for sharing their thoughts and stories, I hope you enjoy their inspiring words (below) as much as I did!
You favorite highlights & monumental moments in history:
- Women’s Right to Vote
- Rosa Parks, 1950s civil rights activist (not just as a black woman, but a woman) who fought to dissuade the notion that women were to “be seen, not heard.”
- Fair Wages – in the US, women are still paid less than men for the same job. Women’s rights activists are working, to this day, to change that.
- Equality for all individuals, to include equal rights for women. The right to work and the right to get an education
Attributes required to take steps forward in women’s rights:
- Natural nurturers
Advice from other strong women:
- A woman should always stand up for her rights, and never allow a man to define her worth.
- Women have to remain strong and active in their beliefs, and not be afraid to be different.
- You have to work harder than men, but it will make you a stronger person.
- Every woman should learn and understand the true meaning of “women’s suffrage.”
- Don’t listen to the naysayers… keep moving forward.
- Women have the right to work, get an education, and receive equal pay as men for the same job.
- As a women, you deserve to be respected and regarded as equals to your male counterpart.
- Never let your voice be silenced because you are a woman. Women are not meek, or inferior to men.
- Throughout history, women have learned over and again that we will always encounter barriers to reaching our goals, more barriers than most men. Women have learned over and again that we will often be judged and doubted in the face of our goals. Throughout this history, women have persevered. We have conquered those barriers, overcome the judgements and doubtful friends and strangers, and we have become the women we once looked up to because of all the wonderful achievements of the women before us. We are teachers, presidential candidates, artists, activists, scientists, mothers, engineers, astronauts, environmentalists, flight attendants, pilots, economic developers, and so much more. So, whenever you feel doubt or judgement, and whenever you’re faced with a barrier, remember one thing: You are standing on the strength of all of the women before you and together we can do anything!
- Women have had to fight harder to be heard – not just in countries where equality is just a pipe dream, but here too. We have an obligation, as women, to make our voices heard for those who do not have a voice. During Women’s History Month- this is what we celebrate! Those that inspire, those that empower, those that educate, and those that sacrifice. Be like Ruth Bader Ginsburg – Supreme Court Justice – when something is wrong DISSENT – don’t be afraid to disagree – be strong in your convictions. Be like Malala Yousafzai- Pakistani activist and Nobel Prize winner – advocate for those around you who are not as strong. Stand up for you, stand up for them. Be like Amelia Earhart – First female to fly solo across the Atlantic- forge new trails, do the things that you aspire to even if – especially if -people tell you that you can’t. Be like Rosa Parks – Civil Rights Activist – don’t let where you start or the things that happen to you determine where you will go or the impact you will make. Be like Wonder Woman – Fight like a girl and remember that you are stronger than you know, and braver than you believe. The most amazing women in the world think entrepreneurially- they know that they have the power to create their future, and make the future brighter for those around them.
What does “being a woman” mean?
- Being willing to work very hard to improve the lives of not just ourselves, but everyone around us.
- Being strong, kind, capable of making mistakes and rising above them, and having the ability to multi-task.
- Being able to generate new life.
- Being able to express feelings of joy, sorrow, happiness and sadness, and not be embarrassed to be vulnerable and talk about it.
- A woman is a hard-worker who never gives up on her dreams and knows that she is capable of achieving her goals.