How will your daughter spend this weekend? Maybe Eggs Benedict, a walk down the River Clyde or through the Stockbridge Farmers' Market followed by a frothy coffee and a silly movie. She'll fall asleep on the couch and you'll enjoy the last few months of being able to carry your little girl upstairs to bed.
Aren't we lucky? I doubt any of our daughters will have a weekend of slave labour. Luckily they'll avoid the fear of female genital mutilation. She won't find herself the victim of a forced, underage marriage, followed by rape leaving your child, your daughter a mother, when really she should still be a child? No. we are lucky...
I was one of three sons, born into Punjabi culture in the West of Scotland. It really couldn't have been more macho! I had to escape to London to embrace my heterosexual love of the colour pink and night-time moisturising. As I held my newborn daughter in my arms some sixteen years ago, I thought perhaps I'd understand womankind a bit better. I was woefully optimistic! I've never been more confused by women! And I've never been so angry at the seeming acceptance that more than half our population can be treated as second and third class citizens. If half of what happened to the women of the world happened to dogs or cats we would be banner-bound and marching the streets. But it seems fine when it's our girls and young women.
Here is a fact. 70% of the world's poorest folk are women and girls. When a girl is born poor her life chances are severely reduced. Young women have fewer rights, less access to education, sexual health services, networks, decision making, safety and control over their bodies. They are trapped - trapped in a vicious cycle of poverty, violence and inequality. In some parts of the world our young women are more likely to be raped than taught to read. It really is a world away from the lives we lead. Having become the father of a daughter, having blessed with this amazing kinetic kid, bouncy through life, full of ideas and notions and thoughts I can't help but wonder how much improved the world would be for men and women if we took a little time and started redressing imbalances.
There has never has there been a better time to resolve these injustices. 300 Nigerian schoolgirls abducted; 300. That's the size of a primary school. Those 300 hundred will create ever increasing circles of impact around their community. In India we witness the horrific killings of two teenage girls and far too many reports of random, senseless rapes. Lives are being devastated, families torn asunder, communities shattered. Enough. Time to raise our game, raise our gaze and raise our children. Properly...
This is why I'm supporting ActionAid's She CAN appeal to help free young women across the world from violence and poverty and to allow them to realise their full potential. What's better all donations made to the appeal by 25 June will be matched by the UK government. What better gift on Father's Day.
For more information, visit actionaid.org.uk/shecan
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