Today’s International Women’s Day and, until the past few years, I hadn’t heard much about this day. Started in 1908, the day was created to mark the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women. Back when it was started, women couldn’t vote. They couldn’t hold most jobs. They couldn’t be whomever they wanted to be. For you and me- white, solidly middle class women living in the Northeast- that’s pretty unimaginable.
Over the past year, we’ve seen women start to roar, loudly and with purpose. You and I and Scorch watched live feeds of Susan B. Anthony’s grave on election day. We marveled at pictures and videos during the Woman’s March on DC. We blasted Beyonce’s Run the World and we read Rebel Girls nightly. We talk about what it means to be a woman today and how the sky is the limit.
But I have something to confess—until I started educating myself, I didn’t know why this was so important. I have never thought I was less than because of my gender. I have never been assaulted. I have never been harassed. I was raised to know my self worth and even at my lowest, I have never, ever doubted that I am worthy of as much respect as a man. Nana and Papa never made me feel less than my brother. I have been very, very blessed- as are you.
But a lot of women aren’t as blessed. There are a countless issues women face world-wide and million reasons why a Woman’s Day is needed, but let’s talk about something you can relate to for a second. Did you know that nearly half a billion women cannot read and 62 million girls are denied an education world-wide? People are not taught to read or allowed go to school simply because they were born with a vagina instead of a penis. Girls are more likely to have to stay at home and tend younger siblings and other household chores; ensuring education falls way down the priority list.
As a result, 1 in 3 girls in the developing world are married before the age of 18. Any chance of living a good life is tied to the men in their life—fathers, brothers, husbands and sons. If they marry into poverty or to an abusive spouse, a woman’s options for getting out and moving up are next to none without an education and marketable skills.
Yeah, yeah—I know a lot of that doesn’t mean a lot to you here and now. Child marriages and abuse is as foreign to you as walking on Mars and for that, darling girl, I’m so thankful. But it’s because we’re so blessed—because we do have it so good—that we need to work even harder for those who don’t.
I don’t know what the means for you—hell, I don’t know what it means for me. All I know is that this year, I’ve been inspired to find out how I can give back. Right now that’s been monetary through donations, but I hope to figure out a way to take action and you can bet I’ll be dragging you and Scorch along with me.
I saw this picture earlier today and gasped. The bull has been a fixture on Wall Street since 1989 and last night, the little badass girl showed up. Her name is Fearless Girl and when I look at her, I see you. You, child, are my prickly pear. You’re my kid who doesn’t like hugs and who suffers through inane small talk. You keep your tribe small and tight and you hate when you don’t know what to expect or what to do. You are equal parts sass and stubbornness with a side of humor and grace that I marvel at daily.
When you decide to stand for something, you plant both feet firmly and you don’t give up and you don’t care who is in your way. Often times, this makes me crazy—but little girl, you will move mountains. You will vanquish giants and you will always stand up for yourself and I couldn’t be more proud.
So today on International Women’s Day I honor the women who have come before me, I celebrate with the women who fight today and I wait with eagerness and hope to see how you change the world.
I love you, my fearless girl.