Having kids is nerve-wracking for so many reasons. As a new parent your natural instinct is to shield your kids physically from the world. When that first year of worrying started to come to a close I began to think less about shielding and more about shaping. The enormity of our role as parents began to dawn on me, and I wanted to make sure that the world my child knew grew as he did.
In my own world and beyond gender inequality seemed everywhere – Julia Gillard had just delivered her misogyny speech, and having kids had revealed the unique breed of sexism reserved only for mothers. Even on my baby’s bookshelves, the majority of stories seemed to be about male characters, and the heavily gendered roles my kids could expect to play in the world. My nightmare was to have a kid who participated in perpetuating that inequality.
These are just some of the women we admire this International Women’s Day (post continues after video).
I thought about what I could do to contribute in readjusting the way kids see the world, which was how I arrived at writing a feminist picture book for kids.
Amazing Babes started as a present for my son’s first birthday, and the idea behind it was to introduce him women whose achievements, values and skills I wanted him to grow with. I enlisted my friend, Japan based illustrator Grace Lee, to do illustrations and as soon as she started sending her gorgeous drawings back I knew we needed to find an audience for the book beyond my son.
In the book there are women from different times (from artist Frida Kahlo to Elizabeth Garrett Anderson, who founded both England’s first hospital for women and school of medicine for women), different places (including Liberian peace activist Leymah Gbowee and Redfern’s own Mum Shirl), of different ages (teen editor and actor Tavi Gevinson to Australia’s first female parliamentarian, Edith Cowan), and achieving very different things (like punk singer Kathleen Hanna, anarchist Emma Goldman and education activist Malala Yousafzai).