I grew up in the type of home where being a girl didn’t seem very different from being a boy. Both of my parents worked full time in demanding careers and distributed labour equally. My brothers, sister and I were treated equally around the house and all had opportunities to pursue whatever sport, artistic, or academic interests we wanted.
This continued on throughout high school, where my feminist girls’ school taught us we could do and be anything. Our accomplished alumni, including Nicole Kidman, Justice Lucy McCallum and Catherine Martin, show how important it is to give girls an environment for success.
Call me (very) naïve, but it came as a shock when I realised often women are not treated equally to men. Women can earn less, are treated as inferior, and aren’t given the same opportunities. Women often have worse health outcomes and can be dismissed and ignored.
I didn’t really experience this gender bias until I had children myself. Suddenly, my choices seemed limited. As I wrote in SBS five years ago, the world for fathers and mothers is very unequal. Most women still balance the default parent role with workplace responsibilities and still get paid less to do it. At the time, I lamented the fact that many women have to sacrifice salary, benefits or choose a role beneath their experience because that’s all I can find that is part time.
I have found my own solution which is working for myself, but that comes with its own challenges. As I work from home, I tend to be the one who has to sacrifice work when one kid is sick. But for me it’s a small price to pay for flexibility, having challenging work and being paid my worth.
Now I’m a mother of three daughters, equality and gender bias are often on my mind. With International Women’s Day around the corner, here’s what I hope for my daughters in their future.
Because 2.7 billion women are legally restricted from having the same choice of jobs as men…
I hope my girls find their passion and pursue it, no matter what it is. Currently, the two oldest are interested in science and I hope their interest continues to grow. Only 28% of people in STEM qualified industries are women so it’s important to nurture these young scientific minds of the future.
Because 29 million girls are out of school…
I hope they will always be curious and have a love of learning. I hope they always feel encouraged and nurtured with engaging and enriching educational experiences.
Because one girl or woman is killed by a member of their family every 11 minutes…
I want they always feel safe and never experience violence or abuse. But if they do, I want them to know they can ask for help and I hope their voice is heard.
Because 1.5 million fewer women than men take part in sport at least once a month…
I hope they never feel they have to give up playing the games they love. I hope they are inspired by more female sporting role models (including their old mum who is still battling it out on the football field at 40!).
Because women’s bodies in the media are often sexualised…
I hope they love their bodies for what they can do and how it makes them feel, not how it looks.
Because women earn 14.2% less than men…
I hope they will never earn less than the man sitting next to them doing the same job. I hope they will always ask for what they’re worth and won’t be afraid to negotiate.
I hope they won’t be afraid to speak their mind and show their strength. I hope they won’t be silenced.
I hope this not just for my daughters, but all girls and women. Happy International Women’s Day 2022!