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OPINION: Teaching our daughters they can do anything

Published on

Tara Jeffrey

My daughter recently brought home a Kindergarten assignment asking her to describe what her mommy and daddy do for a living.

Her answer: “Daddy goes to work and mommy makes muffins.”

“Excuse me?” I asked, a little heartbroken.

She repeated the sentence.

It suddenly occurred to me that — because I’m usually conducting interviews and writing stories while she’s in bed or at school, and since she can’t quite read or write yet — that I’ve never bothered to talk to her about my job.

“Mommy writes stories and takes pictures for the newspaper,” I explained, holding up a copy. “See?”

Her eyes lit up.

“You tell stories for work?” she shouted. “Wow!”

The following week I dropped by the school, where one of the bulletin boards featured a list of all the kids and what they like to do.

I scrolled through to find my daughter’s name, and beside it read: “I am a writer.”

It gave me ‘all the feels’ (as the kids say these days).

Of course, our kids don’t have to follow in our footsteps, and that’s not the point here.

But what I realized was how important it is to talk to them about what we do, and more importantly, what they can do — whether it’s raising a family at home, working a 9 to 5 job, becoming a professional hockey player, or anything else. (Note: there is nothing wrong with muffin-making, if that’s what you want to do. Please don’t send me angry emails).

This week, International Women’s Day is recognized around the world, highlighting the successes of women, and reminding us of how far we have to go.

According to the Canadian Women’s Foundation, most girls start out strong in life, but as they approach adolescence their mental health declines, their risk of sexual assault skyrockets, and they spend their days “in a toxic soup of hypersexualized media that destroys their self esteem.”

Right now, women are under-represented among enrollees in all apprenticeship training programs (except food and service trades), and are still earning, on average, 83 cents to every dollar earned by men.

Victoria Kaspi, a McGill astrophysicist, recently became the first-ever woman to claim Canada’s top science award, which, as the Globe & Mail noted, was “a startling reminder of the overwhelming gender imbalance that persists at the highest level of Canadian academia.”

Let’s tell our daughters about the women we are, the women we know, and the women they can grow up to be.

For more on empowering girls, visit canadianwomen.org/empower-girls

 

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