While all three of you are still a bit too young to be aware of it, today is International Women’s Day. It’s a day that celebrates the economic, political and social achievements of women, both what we have achieved thus far and what we hope to achieve into the future.
The past few generations have been truly inspiring in terms of change. Thanks to your forebears you are growing up in a country that gives you the right to vote, the right to expect an equal education, the right to work and to receive equality of pay. You also have the right to marry or not and while I hope you won’t need it, you also have the right to a no-fault divorce. You have the ability to have your voice heard and to have your opinions matter. It is quite honestly a wonderful time to be a woman.
Irrespective of societal change though, there are some fundamental truths that remain constant from generation to generation. So as you navigate your way from child to adolescent to woman, there are five things that I want each of you to always know.
You are beautiful. As I look at you all now, radiating exuberance and health and happiness, I wish desperately that you could stay exactly that way forever. You probably won’t though because the public obsession with celebrities and body image will capture your attention very soon and niggling doubts about your own appearance will start to creep in. Please know that it doesn’t matter whether you’re “fat” or “skinny”; whether you’re pear or apple-shaped. It doesn’t matter how tall or short you are or what clothes you wear. If you are happy within yourself then you are beautiful. Always.
The equality of education and career rights for boys and girls means that you truly can be anything that you want to be, provided you have enough determination to make it happen.
You are stronger than you think. Sometimes people will put you down or in your current kiddie parlance: “be mean” to you. That’s just – well – unfortunately that’s just life. It’s not just a schoolyard thing either. There are always those who are angry or jealous or trying to deal with unhappiness in their own life by being mean to others. So people being mean is something you’ll always have to deal with and sometimes you might think that you just can’t. But you can, I know you can, because you’re smart and you’re supported and you’re stronger than you think.
You – and only you – are in charge of your future. One huge advancement in the past few generations has been equality of education and career rights for boys and girls. It means that you truly can be anything that you want to be, provided you have enough determination to make it happen. Yes, yes, plenty of people will tell you what they think you should do with your life but at the end of the day you – and only you – can shape your future. And your Dad and I will always be your very own personal cheer squad!
Trust your judgement. Please, please, please, please, please. No matter what the situation and what your age, know that you should always listen to your own inner voice and that if something doesn’t feel right then it isn’t. It doesn’t matter whether the situation involves doing something, saying something or taking something – if it doesn’t feel like the right thing to do then always have the courage to say no.
You are loved. Beyond all else, I want each of you to know within the very core of your being that you are always loved. From the moment that each of you entered my life you became an integral part of me. The best part of me. Sometimes I think that my heart is going to burst with happiness when I look at you and I know that your Dad feels exactly the same way. Sure, I’ll get cross with you sometimes; I’ll probably criticise your hair and clothes and boyfriends too. That’s all superficial though because at the end of the day no matter where you are, who you’re with or what you do, I will always, always love you beyond anything else in the world. You will ALWAYS be my beautiful girls.
There is a world of opportunity just waiting for you, so happy International Women’s Day my gorgeous girls. May you always be proud of who you are.