Hello there, it’s me, mum. You’ve no idea how terrifying it is for me to type those words at the age of 24 but perhaps one day you will.
I have no idea if you’ll EVER exist or I’ll ever be in a place where I definitely know I want to have you but, on the off chance that you will, there are so many things I want for you already.
I want you to be healthy and happy and safe and loved, and afforded the same opportunities no matter what city or county or country you’re born in.
I want you to grow up in a world where gender doesn’t matter, where men and women are equal and nobody tells you that you can’t do something just because you’re a girl. I’m lucky in that nobody has ever uttered those words to me but millions of women can’t say the same.
Just yesterday a 17 year old girl from Pakistan was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, two years after she was shot in the head just for trying to go to school. She didn’t let that terrifying ordeal stop her from campaigning for every girl’s right to an education though, and I want you to grow up in a world where her dream is your reality.
You need only pick up a newspaper or head to an online search engine to discover that there are so many places on the planet where women don’t get the opportunity to achieve their full potential because of poverty, violence, bureaucracy, hypocrisy and, sometimes, even a select few ‘good’ men.
Right now, I’d consider Ireland to be one of those places. I’m genuinely not sure I could or should ever have you here.
Our Constitution says that while you’re in my body you’re the most important thing in the world, but once you’re out the powers that be don’t seem to regard you so highly.
We put people in prison because they haven’t paid a bill, but someone who sexually violates or rapes a women walks out of court with a suspended sentence and a slap on the wrist. Our historical record of prosecuting those who mistreat children, be they boys or girls, isn’t exactly great either.
And if you’re ever in the unthinkable position where you’ve been sexually attacked, or discover you’re carrying a child that can’t live, the incredibly difficult decision to terminate your pregnancy isn’t even yours to make. I’d have to help you book a boat or plane ticket and take you to a foreign country.
My own experiences tell me, daughter, that the biggest challenges you might face will come, not from the lofty offices of the land but, from your own female counterparts. I can’t speak for everyone, some girls get on just fine, but some find other women to be both their greatest allies and deadliest foes.
I live in a world where some girls still think it’s ok to put others down because of the way they look, the dreams they have for the future, or just because they want to live a life that’s ever so slightly different. Beware the bitches, for they are plentiful and will tear at you until you’re strong enough to tell them where to shove their misdirected bile.
And then there are men. Believe it or not, they’re not all bad, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t a few who’ll just never understand that girls aren’t here for their amusement. Right now, we don’t earn as much as them, don’t hold as many seats in Parliament as them, and are still treated like sexual objects by enough of them to make our stomachs churn.
That’s not all men though, daughter, and I’d love for you to grow up in a world where every girl is afforded the opportunity to be treated like one of the boys if she wants. Boys have been an overwhelmingly positive influence in my life and a great support to me over the years: I’d like to think that they’d do the exact same thing for you.
I know I’m not the only one who wants these things for their future children.
Perhaps it’s a little odd for me to pen this letter and pop it online but today is International Day of the Girl Child and if I can’t say it now, then when?
Today is day to celebrate you, cherish you and dream of the force to be reckoned with you might prove to be.
I’m entitled to dream this dream for you, because I’m a girl.
Have you seen Sarah Kay’s ‘If I should have a Daughter’ Ted talk? Really excellent – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0snNB1yS3IE – your post made me think of it.
Oooh, no, popping it in my bookmarks now though!