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I have a 5 year old daughter. She is an inquisitive and sensitive soul, and when she watched an advert from ActionAid UK recently that featured a little girl saying how sad she was that she could no longer go to school, my daughter was very confused.

“Why can’t she go to school mummy?” (sat on the sofa still in her school uniform) “Because in her country children have to pay to go to school and some parents can’t afford to pay.” The advert goes on to say how many girls have to work in their homes and villages instead of going to school and they don’t get paid for this work. “That’s awful mummy, she should be able to go to school if she wants to. If she doesn’t get paid how will she get money?”

This situation is so obviously unjust and alien to a five year old girl who was fortunate enough to be born in a country where she will have every opportunity to reach her potential. International Women’s Day is so important, vital that those fortunate enough to be able to reach our potential in this world, support and break down the barriers to those less fortunate. I hope any future Granddaughter I have will not have as starkly different opportunities for their life as other girls around the world.

What International Women’s Day means to me

International Women’s Day, March 8th 2023 was the day I gave birth to my son – obviously a very special day for me personally, the continuation of my experience of motherhood. However as we draw close to his first birthday I find myself pondering what his life will be like.

He will obviously have the same love, support and opportunities as his older sister, as part of our family but his life experience will be fundamentally different just by the mere fact that one day he will grow to be a man. I cannot imagine the subtle (or not so subtle) effect this will have on his life, what barriers he may glide past that my daughter may have to break down.

As his mother, I ask myself how will I raise my son to be the man who champions his sister, and other women, who supports and advocates for them? Calls out his male peers if he sees prejudice, injustice, discrimination, intimidation.

International Women’s Day is incredibly important to women, but ultimately as a woman, a mother of a son I feel like there is some untapped opportunity to shape the world for the better, with every child, every boy that is born today…

This year, there is the potential for the female ally, the advocate of the future. As we blow out the candle on his birthday cake, I will be making a wish that he has a happy life, and that his world is one of love and inclusivity.

Becca Cooke

Becca Cooke is Head of Product at Tradebyte

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