Its International Day of the Girl Child, it’s the sixth year of the UN led day to recognize the difficulties that millions of girls around the world and to try to galvanise the world to take action to empower girls to reach their full potential.
“The day aims to highlight and address the needs and challenges girls face, while promoting girls’ empowerment and the fulfillment of their human rights”
I care deeply about the human rights of girls around the world. I care about the human rights of girls in Ireland and of my girls. I have three girls and a boy. I have the same wishes for all of my children. It is a lengthy wish list and it’s almost identical for each of them.
My daughters lead a charmed enough life. They are fortunate to be born in Ireland in the 21st century. They are safe, warm, guaranteed an education , access to clean water and protected from violence. They don’t have the same human rights as my son though. Bodily autonomy is still out of their reach .
The gender pay gap still exists. The glass ceiling above them is cracked but not smashed.Ireland has come a long way in a short enough time, a long way but not the whole way.
Patriarchy still has its grip on Ireland today, not as tight as it once was but holding on still.
There is no comparing their lives to those of girls in developing nations. My girls, your girls, our girls are in a much stronger position of privilege but we have to make sure their position is continuously strengthened so they can move mountains and they can be the ones who can help girls and women in other nations. They can be ones to ensure gender inequality becomes part of history.
We raise our four children the same way. They are treated equally. I am fairly confident there is no gender inequality in their education to date but there will come a day when they will experience it. Maybe not in their education but they will see in action when they become teenagers. A comment. A look. Something will happen and the bubble of equality they live in now, will start to crumble. I hate that.
I wish I could say I am doing all I can to smash the patriarchy but to be honest there are days where I am too tired to brush my hair so there is no smashing just tap-tap tapping away at it when I can. I march, I question , I argue, I talk back. I email TD’s. I sign petitions. Does it help? Who knows.
Other days I just try to do what I can to empower my kids, I tell them about great women around the world and great women in their own world, in their family. I tell them they can be anybody they want to be. I believe this, most days. I hope for it , always.
I hear comments about short skirts and too much drink and asking for it and having it all. I read about sentences passed down to abusers and rapists or sentences suspended. I read statistics about the gender pay gap. I hear throwaway comments about women from men, educated men who I like and respect, sometimes it’s an attempt at humour, sometimes its meant without offence, its still said though . I see so many of my peers try to keep all the balls in the air while trying to keep the wolf from the door.
Each generation of women have an easier path than the previous. Our great grandmothers got to vote. Our grandmothers got to work. Our mothers got to continue working after they got married and received better access to education. We have been sold the idea our generation is the one that has it all. We don’t have it all or rather we can’t have it all, not at the same time at least. I think our generation are worn out from being sold this idea because the right supports are not there for us.
It is easy to be exhausted from it all some days but we are not too tired to keep fighting the outdated laws and attitudes that hold Irish women and girls back so we might be tired but we will fight on.
I want our girls generation have it easier . I hope they have equality, bodily autonomy and happiness. Simplistic? Possibly. Achievable? I hope so.
That’s my wish for my girls , for the girl children, on International Day of the Girl Child.