This article comes as one of our final guest blogs as we turned International Women's Day into "Month' celebrating amazing women in our network and inviting them to blog about their topic of choice. This one comes from Marija Simonds from Purple Playground. Some excellent lessons from parenting young girls and how we shape their future reality based on what we teach them. Aware or Not. Enjoy !
"But Daddy, girls don't play this sport do they?"
It was the middle of an Australian winter and as is typical for some parts of the country the AFL was on the television. My, then 3 year old, daughter started a conversation about the footy asking a range of questions. My sport loving husband jumped into action enthusiastically explaining the rules and why the ball was that shape. It was something I hadn't grown up with so I listened with interest. I thought it was great that unlike me she'd be one of those females that would know about the footy and possibly appreciate the rules of the game. She'd be able to engage with others in a way that I couldn't. But what came next shocked both of us. She concluded the conversation with, "But Daddy girls don't play this sport, do they?"
At that time, it was the middle of 2014, female footy wasn't being played on TV and wasn't front and centre. In a state of shock, my sport obsessed husband scrambled for the remote to find her an example of female sport. Female footy was going to be a stretch so any female sport would have been good at that point. It was the weekend and not a single channel was streaming female sport. I saw something shift in my husband. I'd discussed female issues throughout our marriage but did it in a way that made his eyes roll. In this moment though, the power of my 3 year old’s statement was palpable. He started to think differently and I could see he became aware of a world that was different to his own.
Since 2014 the world has shifted in incremental ways but it has shifted. There is now active dialogue about women breaking glass ceilings, gender equality, the pay gap, there is a strong female AFL following and of course there is the #metoo movement. As a female I've embraced this heightened awareness of issues that have limited women’s progress. It's been unfair on so many levels for so long and I love that the volume has been turned up on the women's agenda.
But, I sense danger in this activism too. I'm worried that it may not take us forward in the way we deserve and at the pace we hope for. I've observed the fear that men are now feeling in the workplace and in the community. They're feeling a little lost and very nervous. The exposure of the women’s agenda has been essential in bringing attention and awareness to the community, but was it the intention to make men fearful and even more confused? I struggle to see how this will propel us ALL forward.
My belief is that now that women's issues are out in the open it's time to collaborate with our male counterparts to make some very real progress, together and show our little people the way forward. At the least leave them with a stronger platform to launch their futures from.
I believe our world's future is bright. I know we can get this right. We've achieved incredible feats, the future of our planet will be no exception. We can do this. We just need to get all our heads together to shift the needle forward. Our children depend on it, the planet depends on it.