Leaders & Daughters - To My Daughter

“Live As If”

My Dear Alexandra,

Many people around the world are celebrating International Women’s Day. Some use this opportunity to speak out, loud and clear, against the persisting gender inequity and to encourage women around the world to strive and take what is rightfully theirs. Others (particularly men in the country of your ethnic heritage) use this day to give women flowers, wake up early and make them breakfast, adorn women with compliments, go to glamorous parties – in other words, do everything to emphasize the “femininity” of women in some of the most stereotypical ways possible. You are almost nine months old and, therefore, are beyond all this. And I think it’s a good thing.

I look at you – the adorable infant you are – and I don’t want to celebrate your femininity. I want to celebrate your humanity. There was a formula in the dissident movement Eastern Europe – “live as if”. If you are subjected to a system that denies you the basic dignity, the simplest (and one could say, the hardest) thing to do is to live as if you have your dignity. You could go on the barricades and demand equal treatment or you could behave as if you cannot be treated in any way other than with respect and honour. Mind you, both are valid strategies and no one is to say that one is inferior to the other.

But I do hope that when you read this letter, you will genuinely ask: “What’s the big deal, Daddy?”

I hope that when you make your steps in life, you will make them as if your gender does not matter. In fact, I hope the word “gender” becomes an ancient relic. I hope that you will raise youreye brows and maybe even cringe a little when some questionnaire invites you to select your gender. “Why does that even matter?” – I hope you will ask. Gender does not matter when you study for a good grade in school, when you apply for college, when you write your exams, when you date, when you go out friends, when you go on an internship, when you apply for a job, when you build your career, and when you marry have children.

What matters is who you are, your talents, your work ethic, your attitude, and the way you treat others.

I hope this letter inspires you to hold your head high and to know that everything you set your eyes upon is within your reach and in your power. Most importantly, I want you to know that I will always give my very best to and for you.

Your father,