Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Women Influencing Women

When my daughter was born, my destiny as her mother was determined by my history as a woman. Growing up with strong, determined women, my first response to this tiny infant was to tell her that "You are a part of a legacy of extraordinary women. I will help you understand that you are capable of doing all that you want to do. You can try to seek knowledge, travel to understand, and know that different is not bad, but just different." Of course, I wasn't alone on this journey. My husband and two sons were part of the team that allowed this girl to understand she "can."

A year or so after she was born, I crammed into a tiny strip mall outside a bookstore on a Sunday afternoon in Salt Lake City to hear Gloria Steinem speak.  My friend and I came early, but the crowd just kept growing and growing until it poured outside onto the parking lot. The crowd was greater than the owner of the bookstore ever anticipated. The crowd was electric with anticipation. The power of all these women gather together was Women were hungry to hear the words of the woman who inspired us with her writings. I particularly identified with her philosophy: "We've begun to raise daughters more like sons... but few have the courage to raise our sons more like our daughters."


My daughter (second row, first left)  called me up a few nights ago. "Mom, I just heard Gloria Steinem speak. The atmosphere was electric." She went on to tell me that she and a group of friends from work (Hardy Girls, Healthy Women, a non-profit that works to empower young girls) heard Gloria Steinem talk at Colby College. Her reply to the event was "Mom, I always thought that all girls grew up like me - empowered. I realized now it was you and dad that made it happen for me."

My husband's response to her comment was "You did it. We only opened the doors." So here I write knowing that in less than 20+ years ago, a book, a speech, and many conversations about both made a difference in one young woman's life today. This first entry for Women's History Month is to honor Gloria Steinem whose ageless wisdom continues to be passed down to generations. She continues to influence not only the women I met in my youth, but the young women of today. Gloria, you truly are a contributor and an icon who continues to make a difference.
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