Gender Equality Starts at Home
The International Women’s Day passed like all the other years before it, with a lot of fanfare, marches, and internet posts, salutations to famous women, and acknowledgements to all their accomplishments. That is good, but it doesn’t not really create change only brings awareness of how far behind women are to achieving equal rights in the world.
You want to see change? It will take a generation. A generation that will recognize women as a help mate and an equal companion to men. I don't know who said this phrase, but it rings so true in these times. “A man who treats a woman like a princess was raised by a queen."
All women all around the world are the ones in charge of educating and nourishing the lives of the children. From birth they are watching everything you do. All your actions can become the core foundation of their belief system for life. The attitudes you consciously or unconsciously you have an effect on them. You can help create a new generation of open-mindedness or perpetuate a world filled with gender inequalities.
No matter where your circumstances, if you live In a liberal or strict patriarchal society, you can teach your children to break the cycle of gender bias. There are many subtle ways a mother can teach her boys to be open minded and respectful of women and teach her daughters to be capable of being all they can be. You do this by setting the example.
Throughout history we have seen that in back of every successful men and woman in whatever field they excel, when asked they usually say it was their mothers and fathers who they admired most, learned from and wanted to make them proud. Lovingly talk to your children, tell them each day what kind of people you want to see them grow up to be someday. Give them examples of people they should emulate. It is never late, if they are babies, toddlers or teens; you still have the power to influence them. You have the power to guide them through life to teach them to respect all women, to never objectify them, to defend them, and to see them as equals.
You say, I am raising my child just right. Are you sure? Let me give you a small example. Many mothers, out of love, serve their children first and if there is any time, or money, she is the last to think of her needs. From the moment they serve food, they make sure all her children have been fed and then she eats what is leftover. What is she silently teaching her children? You may think they will appreciate this small sacrifice someday… Oh Mommy so loves us, she is sacrificing herself so we can eat. In reality, you might be teaching your child that a woman is not worthy. She is not deserving of equal stand at the table. The men and the family are more important. This simple action you can easily correct. Sit at the table, and serve yourself FIRST, and partake equally of the meal, so your children will see that you exist and have an equal footing as your husband and them. You don’t show love by depreciating yourself. It is an offer of love, you say. But do they interpret it as so?
This is what I hear:
What does your mom do?”
“She is a doctor/a lawyer/ a store-owner”…
“What does your mom do?”
“She stays at home”, “She does nothing”, or “She doesn’t work”.
I am sure many of you reading this are rightfully upset, but please, think how your child would think, not how you expect them to think. Honestly, at home moms, do you think your child he/she sees you as equally important as his friend’s working mom? How do you expect them to look up to us when most of us, at home moms have a hard time convincing ourselves that we have a true value when all we do is ignored by the world around us? We all know at home moms are just as important as working moms, but society does not give them the merit they deserve. They are never praised for their efforts. More importantly, the children do not see it.
Yet, you still can set an example for your children. Always study, volunteer, get involved in civic activities, go back to school, work part-time, and when you can, work full time so they never take you for granted. What kind of a woman do you want your children to see you? Do it! Your children will copy you, so be the best person you want them to be. You set the tone.
All women need to work, or at least have the skills to work in case by some reversal of fortune she needs to fend for herself and her family on her own. If you depend on your husband and family to live, what are you teaching your daughter? What are you teaching your sons? A woman cannot make a living on her own? Only men are more capable of working than women?
If you want to teach your daughters that all women can work and be self-sufficient, and you want your sons to see women as capable as men and deserve equal pay and opportunities to advance in their careers, you need to set the tone. Always study, volunteer, get involved in civic activities, go back to school, work part-time, and when you can, work full time so they never take you for granted. What kind of a woman do you want your children to see you? Do it! Your children will copy you, so be the best person you want them to be.
Watch what you say in front of your children, especially about what you say about other women, do you praise them, or put them down. Remember that everything you say or do is being watch by your little boys and girls. It is your responsibility to teach your boys to respect all women not only you, but his sisters, his grandmothers, and if you have maids, the maid. If you treat the maid as a slave, or a second-class citizen, he will see how you treat her…a woman, and he will think that women in her position, color, or nationality, are second class.
If the grandmother sits in a chair all day and you disrespect her, ignore her, and see her as old with little to contribute in the home, you expect your children to grow up respecting them and other elders?
If you give more privileges to your boys but not to your daughters, do you think the boys will respect their sisters as equal when they grow up? If you allow one to swim, do karate, but not the girls…because they are too delicate, it is not a feminine thing to do …you are reinforcing the old stereotypes that you and so many women are fighting so hard to break.
As mothers, as queens, you have always had the power to teach equal rights to women and to change men’s perception of women. Marches for women’s rights, and voicing our opinions may help, but in the long run, true change comes about at home. Your attitudes and actions while raising your children will be the biggest contributors to that change. Remember the words of William Ross Wallace, “the hand that rocks the cradle rules the world”? You are all queens that “rock the cradle” in your homes. Rock wisely the next generation of men and women so that they will embrace gender equality. Be the queen to your boys and girls.