Gender Inequality On Mother's Day

06/05/2016 1:18 PM AEST | Updated 28/09/2016 9:59 PM AEST
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A gold justice scale with the two different gender symbols on either side balancing each other out on an isolated white background

Gender equality is a topic that has been spoken about for years. We all know what it is, most of us agree that it is essential, yet as women we are still confronted by the disparity between the sexes, sometimes at the hands of women who claim to be fighting for the cause.

I was confronted by such a situation this week at my daughter's school as the invitations went out for the annual Mother's Day lunch. Like the many working mothers out there, it is often difficult for me to take the time out to attend these events, but I've always worried that my daughter may perceive my absence as indifference, so begrudgingly I go.

What disheartens me, however, is the contrast between Mother's Day and Father's Day events. The Dads are invited to attend a breakfast. They spend time with their kids and it is all is over by 9.30 am, allowing them to head off to their jobs without too much interruption (leaving the kind women of the parents association to clean up after them).

The question I raise is what kind of message are we sending to our daughters in regards to gender equality when the underlying presumption is that men work and women don't?

Gender inequality and discrimination needs to be addressed with children in order to create a world without stereotypes. From a young age, girls and boys are confronted by marked differences in opportunities and constraints depending on their gender. As they grow, these restrictions become more pronounced, especially for young girls who are systematically left on the sidelines.

As a mother of daughters, I feel a moral and social obligation to show them how to stand up to gender inequality and to become the next generation of feminists, women who believe that women's voices are as important as men's, and that both sexes deserve equal opportunity.

Social learning science has taught us that a child's development happens through observation and imitation, so it is up to me to be consistent in my stance against inequality in front of my children. This is an ongoing topic of dinner conversation around our table, how can we all gain strength to push through the glass ceiling that has been placed above us by past generations?

Whilst a Mother's Day lunch certainly had no sinister motivation, we all need to be so careful about the subliminal messages that we are sending to our daughters through our own actions. Fortunately my daughters are now of the age that they understand how important these issues are to their mum, and let me off the hook this year. They know that I expect them to act in a similar fashion, if they feel disempowered or diminished in any way because of their gender they need to speak up and act on it.

I think Justin Trudeau, Prime Minister of Canada , put it best when he said:

"Let us teach our children to value equality, to practise respect and to stand up against discrimination. Let us set an example for our daughters and for our sons so that they can, in turn, set an example for their daughters and their sons".

The only way to move forward and to bring change is to empower our girls to challenge the resistance placed upon them and to leave behind the status quo, but we must show them the way.

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