A letter to my daughter on International Women's Day

Dear Ava,

Today we celebrate International Women’s Day. Since you won’t remember much about it, let me tell you we will celebrate by reflecting on the achievements of great women who have come before us, by pledging to stand up and defend the rights of women and by eating cupcakes for morning tea. Because, you know, cupcakes rock.

And now, since I’m your mother, let me pass on two bits of critical advice about being a woman.

1. Think before perming your hair. I ended up looking like a cross between Jon Bon Jovi and Tootsie.

2. Never date a man who has Cher tunes on his iPod.

So what else do I hope for you?

When you get your first part-time job I hope you’re never told (the way I was) that you are not allowed to wear trousers. (Yes, this did actually happen to me. And it was despite the fact, my job entailed climbing up and down a ladder to retrieve stock.)

Don’t play dumb. Not to make a guy feel better. Not to fit in with your friends. And if in Maths class you know the answer – put your damn hand up.

Love your thighs. Know that your breast size has no  relevance to your  IQ.

Should you choose one day to have a baby yourself, may you never have to hide your pregnancy from your employer while you strategise ways to break the news to your boss.

Be the boss, instead.

Be a good friend and work colleague.  Females at work and at school are their own worst enemies thanks to relational bullying, bitchiness and gossip.  Don’t be one of the mean girls.  You’ll hate yourself for it.


Learn who Nancy Bird-Walton is. Learn who Quentin Bryce is. Know about Margaret Olley and Dr Fiona Wood and Gabby Hollows and Tara June Winch. Read up on Layne Beachley, Cathy Freeman, Germaine Greer, Nancy Wake, Kay Cottee, Dr Anita Heiss, Miles Franklin, Kate Morton and Magda Szubanski.   Consider the fact that you have been born at a time when both our  Prime Minister and Governor General are women. And yet  there are still too many workplaces in 2012 which don’t offer equal pay for women. Or flexible work hours or family friendly policies or equal representation of women in top management positions. I hope you laugh because in your working years this seems archaic.

Never let any boy or man for any reason tell you you’re stupid or that your thighs are too fat, humiliate you in private or public or make you feel insignificant. ‘Bitch’ is not a term of endearment.

My daughter, I wish for you a world where you don’t have to hold your keys in your hand walking into a car park at night; where you can feel safe going for a run after dark; where you can get in a taxi by yourself without needing your friends to write down the driver’s ID number.

Work hard.  Love wisely.  Live well.   Life’s short, Ava – eat cupcakes when you can. Happy International Women’s Day.

Here is our gallery of some of the women who inspire us…

What message would you like to say to your daughter, niece, cousin or grand daughter on International Women’s Day?