March 8 is International Women’s Day, an occasion both to celebrate the incredible accomplishments of women around the world and recognize opportunities to work toward equality for people of all ages who identify as female.
As parents, we’re all hoping to leave our children a better world, and to raise them to make the most of it! This month — Women’s History Month — we’re paying special attention to some of the actions we can take to help our daughters grow up to be confident and strong — even those of us who have only sons.
Respect their bodily autonomy.
Teaching girls to respect themselves includes teaching them to insist that others respect them, too, starting with their personal space. It might not seem like a big deal to insist that your daughter give Grandma a kiss, for example, but when girls learn that those choices about their bodies are theirs to make and theirs alone, they’re learning that it’s OK to be confident and assertive about their physical boundaries and what they’re comfortable with.
Encourage them to explore all of their interests.
Your daughter might be into fairies, or she might be into dump trucks... or she might be into fairy dump trucks! Whatever she likes, embrace it. When we encourage our girls to explore those interests without nudging them toward (or away from) the kinds of activities that have traditionally been seen as “girly,” we’re helping them establish a worldview that doesn’t put walls around what girls “can” and “can’t” do.
Listen and help them stand up for themselves.
Men are “decisive” and women are “bossy” — at least, that’s the impression that gender stereotypes create in the workplace. Is it any wonder that girls start to feel insecure taking leadership roles as early as the tween years? We can help normalize assertive women by raising assertive girls. Help your daughter find her voice and speak up for herself — and make sure she knows that you’re right there behind her, backing her up.
Raise empathetic sons.
Parents of boys play an important role in making the world a better place for girls, too!
When the #MeToo movement started making headlines, shocked men asked the women in their lives: “Has this happened to you?” And equally shocked women replied: “Did you really think it hadn’t?” It made many of us aware for the first time that, in some ways, men and women experience different realities. Sadly, it starts in childhood. Adults — men and women — tend to perceive boys and girls differently. And 1 in 10 American girls experience catcalling before the age of 11.
Raising empowered daughters is only half of the equation; we must also raise sons who are taught to value their own feelings and those of the people around them. Conversations about consent can start at a young age, along with the acknowledgement that it’s OK to express emotions and vulnerability. When we allow our sons to explore their interest in toys and activities that might be considered “feminine” — like dolls and princesses — we’re helping to curb a phenomenon that is harmful for both boys and girls.
When we help all of our children feel comfortable and confident in expressing themselves, no matter their gender, we’re laying the groundwork for a more equitable future!
Support organizations that advance women’s interests.
This month, our featured charity is Girls Inc., a nonprofit that, since 1864 has adapted to meet the specific challenges facing young women. They focus on focus on the development of the whole girl; teaching her to value herself, take risks, and discover and develop her inherent strengths. Learn more about their mission and how you can support them.
We are also honored that Ruggish has been included in a Women’s History Month spotlight on women-owned businesses by Pinterest! You can find us among this incredible group of women entrepreneurs on the Pinterest Shop profile and shop all of the brands here. Pinterest has set up an International Women’s Day fund to support organizations that are helping the women most impacted by economic fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic.