I woke up this morning thinking about what I wanted to say to my teenage daughter about the future. At first, it felt like an overwhelming task. I saw a clip on television of a woman at the Hillary Clinton reception. The woman looked up and said to the camera: “The glass ceiling is there and it’s fully in tact.”
Clearly, as a mother, that’s not the message I want my teenage daughter to take away from this election.
I also do not want her to take away the message that degrading women is okay or that walking around in shirts that say “Trump that Bitch” is acceptable behavior. I want to my daughter to believe that there is a level of respect for women in the United States and that young women today have every opportunity to achieve whatever they set out to do. I want young women to believe that their husbands, fathers, brothers and male friends are okay with women having power in the workplace and in the political arena.
My daughter watched the campaign results in her sorority house, surrounded by young women who had voted for their first time. This morning, I told my daughter I was proud of each and every young woman who voted. As a child, my mother hammered in the message that women worked hard to get the right to vote and I must never let them down by failing to exercise my right. It’s the same message I have repeated to my daughter.
As a journalist, I have been writing about women in business for two decades. I have seen firsthand how difficult some of their journeys have been to achieve success in their fields. But I see progress.
This morning, I encouraged my daughter to be proud of how far women have come and to realize that having a female presidential candidate is an accomplishment. I told her that young women today need to educate themselves about politics, business and social issues. They need to know who and what they are voting for and why. They need to demand respect at work and in the world and refuse to accept anything less.
I am encouraged by the reaction of a young woman at Wesley College who said this morning: “Today, we put on our pantsuits and fight on!”
Yes, young women, we need you to fight on!
Over the years, I have seen that the success of women is the success of families. I have seen that when women break the glass ceilings in their fields, they achieve feats that better all of mankind.
There are two things that Hillary Clinton said in her concession speech that I wanted my daughter to hear:
“To all the women, and especially the young women, who put their faith in this campaign and in me: I want you to know that nothing has made me prouder than to be your champion. Now, I know we have still not shattered that highest and hardest glass ceiling, but someday someone will — and hopefully sooner than we might think right now.”
Then, Clinton went on to say something equally as encouraging to the next generation of female leaders:
“To all of the little girls who are watching this, never doubt that you are valuable and powerful and deserving of every chance and opportunity in the world to pursue and achieve your own dreams.”
So parents, talk to your daughters today about what the future holds for them. Give them the encouragement to dream big and to understand that achieving high goals may come with obstacles but navigating them is part of life. Show them examples of women who are admirable and encourage them to address disrespect. Most important, let them know there is a lot of work to be done and I’m hopeful that there are many young women who are smart, self confident and enthusiastic enough to make positive change for years to come.