Parents, you’ve got questions, we’ve got answers.

Or just as likely, we’ve got questions and you’ve got answers.

Challenge: Open Discussion

In honor of International Women's Day - What I want my daughters to know about being a woman

Vote up!
Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Email this article

Several years ago I was in South Africa on a business trip that happened to coincide with their National Women's Day. The holiday, which is celebrated each year on August 9th, commemorates the day in 1956 when 20,000 South African women marched to government buildings in Pretoria to protest the inequality of women, including a law that required black women to carry "identity passes". The peaceful protest marked a significant milestone in the women's and race equality movements in South Africa. It's reported that after marching to the Union Buildings the women sang a song called Wathint` abafazi, Strijdom that includes the words wathint' abafazi, wathint' imbokodo, which translates to "you strike a woman, you strike a rock".

While we don't have our own Women's Day here in the United States, International Women's Day is celebrated each year on March 8th, and every year when this day comes I think of those women in South Africa. Then I think of women like Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony who paved the way for women's rights in the United States in the late 1800's. I think about women like Sally Ride and Sandra Day O'Connor who showed me as a little girl I could be anything I wanted to be when I grew up. I think of women like Manal al-Sharif and Aziza Yousef who are fighting today for women's rights in Saudi Arabia.

And then, I think of my daughters.

What will it be like for them to grow up as women in the 21st Century? Living in a society that is becoming increasingly more global, where the plight and struggle of women in foreign lands must become the fight and protest of women across the world. I wonder, will they take for granted the freedoms and equality they have in their land of birth? Or will they read about girls in India being raped and neglected, and cry tears for them? Will they see TV reports about the girls who have been kidnapped from their homes and schools in Nigeria, forced into slavery and marriage, and become enraged? Will they learn of the girls stolen or bought from their families in Eastern Europe, Asia, and South America and then sold into slavery right here in our own backyard and feel motivated to act?

Will my daughter's know that they have the power responsibility to fight for women across the world? How do I raise my girls to understand that there has never been a more opportune, more precise moment than right now to take action and change the future for all women?

To know that when you strike a woman, you strike a rock.

It’s a staggering responsibility, but I’m comforted to know that there are those who have gone before, paving the way. Organizations like Fashion and Compassion creating jobs for women in vulnerable communities around the world; or like She's the First, fighting gender inequality through education, And organizations like Days for Girls, ensuring no girl misses school simply because she doesn't have access to sanitary supplies and I Support the Girls, making sure no woman has to choose between feeding herself and her personal health.

Because, when you strike a woman, you strike a rock.

I also know I have the power to teach my girls through example.

By shopping from companies that empower women artists and entrepreneurs, I can show my daughters that what we buy and how we spend our money can make a difference in the lives of women around the world. When I speak of injustices and inequalities in the U.S. and in other countries, I teach them that their back yard extends beyond the fence.

When I speak of other women I can comment on their strength, their hearts, and their virtue instead of their clothing, their hair, or their size. When I engage with other women I can treat them as equals, as sisters, and as friends, instead of as competition for men, or jobs, or attention.

Through my words and actions, I can show my girls that strength is beautiful, kindness is powerful, and education is the key to unlocking doors; that they deserve to be cherished and respected by the men in their life. And to always remember the One who envisioned all they could do and be when He created them with love.

Because, when you strike a woman, you strike a rock.

There is more. So much more that can be done, needs to be done so my girls grow up to be sisters of change. But this is where I start.

Because, when you strike a woman, you strike a rock.

To my daughters, and to all of the beautiful, strong, and smart women in my life and around the world: Happy International Women's Day!

This post comes from the TODAY Parenting Team community, where all members are welcome to post and discuss parenting solutions. Learn more and join us! Because we're all in this together.