If you know me, have read my blog posts, or have talked to me for more than a hot minute, then you already know this about me.
But what you may not know about me is that I particularly love reading biographies. And particularly, biographies about strong, influential women. I love learning about women who have faced adversity and triumphed, or set goals and crushed them, who have broken records, or glass ceilings or stigmas. Reading about these women inspires me, it encourages me, and it motivates me to keep writing my own story.
I have become so enraptured by these women and their stories, that I’ve had friends and colleagues suggest I teach an elective on the subject. Perhaps someday, but I’m more interested in connecting with you moms out there. Instead, I’m actually wondering about creating a book club on the topic of strong women and raising strong girls. Any interest?
Today’s topic is for our girls, though, and to that end, I’d like to share with you FIVE WOMEN WHO EVERY GIRL SHOULD KNOW ABOUT.
1. MOTHER TERESA
No matter your faith, religion, or belief, this woman should be at the top of every list like this. She was the picture of humility, of selflessness, of giving. She lived a life of service and gratitude, and taught the world about the definition of true love.
For an example of peace, tranquility, encouragement, and love, every girl should discover Mother Teresa. One of my favorite quotes from this woman, one which I think every girl should keep deep in her heart, states, “If you judge people, you have no time to love them.”
2. OPRAH WINFREY
Love her or not, this woman created an empire out of ashes, and every girl should be encouraged and inspired by her story and her life. A victim of childhood abuse and assault, Oprah rose from poverty to become one of the most powerful women in the world. She pushed through the naysayers who said she’d never make it on TV, and was actually fired from her job as a reporter early in her career- but she never let it stop her.
Not only does Oprah exude success through failure, but she is a woman of compassion and giving. She has given away so much, both publicly and privately. And she promotes and provides education for girls around the world. Oprah is the strong woman we can all learn from. Every girl should know this powerhouse.
3. MALALA YOUSAFZAI
I chose this example because I LOVE that she made her mark on the world as a young girl. For those of you who don’t know her story, Malala is a young activist in Pakistan who stood up for the education of girls in her country and was shot and almost killed by the Taliban because of it. Her story is a powerful one, and one I would not wish on my own daughter. But Malala is a woman of strength and integrity, the girl who stood up for her people when they could not do it themselves. She speaks out around the world, promoting the vision that every girl deserves an education. I love this girl and her story so much that her face graces the walls of our dorm here, and with it her words, “I am stronger than fear”.
4. EMMA WATSON
Who doesn’t love Hermione? Our girls surely know the brains behind the hero, Harry Potter, but what they might not know is that Watson herself is quite the outspoken feminist, in the sense that she speaks publicly about how all girls should feel confident to lead, that they should never dumb themselves down for a boy, and how they should never feel they need permission to be anything they want to be.
Seems like Hermione has taught Miss Watson a thing or two about being a strong woman. Or was it the other way around? Either way, our girls can be encouraged by both Emma Watson and her fictional character, Hermione.
I can go on and on about female leaders who we should introduce to our daughters. There are political leaders, athletes, activists, musicians, historical figures, and women of today, all waiting to teach our girls about strength, courage, confidence, and leadership.
But perhaps the most crucial female figure for your daughter to know is you. You may not grace the pages of Newsweek, or have won an Oscar, but you’ve walked your journey, and you have the scrapes, bruises, and blessings to show for it. And she is a part of that journey. So let her in. Share your story and your journey with her- the good parts and the bad- so that she can see firsthand, what it takes to make a strong woman.
One of my favorites quotes states, “The more a daughter knows the details of her mother’s life, the stronger the daughter.” That’s power. That’s influence.