by Cheryl Jackson Wednesday March 7, 2012

I dropped my youngest daughter off at the airport on Saturday. She was on her way to Kenya to volunteer in a remote rural community. When I looked around at the group of her schoolmates, one thing was noticable. They were all girls. 

"Why is this?"  asked one parent.

Another parent, a mom, said, "Well, it takes a lot of courage to do this, and I think at this age, girls are more courageous."

I hadn't thought of this, but the more I did, the more I thought she was right. Girls are courageous. If that's true, then how many stay that way, and how many don't?  What happens?

As a mother of two girls, I think these are pretty important questions. Terrifying, if you read Heather Mallick's column in The Star.  Mallick looks around at the challenges facing women today - U.S. law student Sandra Fluke being called a  "slut" and a "prostitute" by Rush Limbaugh because she advocates for birth control, Conservative MP Stephen Woodworth trying to re-define when "personhood" begins - and concludes women are no further ahead than we were a century ago when it comes to deciding who we are, who we want to be, who we can be. 

How do we talk to our daughters about this?  Will they roll their eyes and say, Mom, you're over-reacting?  My girls might. They're young. They think the world is their oyster. Why would they think otherwise?  As parents, however, we know it might not be so easy. How do we ensure our daughters stay as strong and courageous as they were when they were young?  International Women's Day is a great opportunity to start talking.

Here are a couple of TVOParents discussions to get the conversation started.