“Without heroes,” wrote the great 20th Century American Jewish author Bernard Malamud, “we are all plain people, and don’t know how far we can go.”
As the father of a nine-month-old, it is my sincerest hope that my daughter always pushes the envelope when she grows up, so she can learn for herself that anything is possible. All she has to do is check the news to see that the possibilities for women are endless.
In May, four female candidates were elected to Kuwait’s 50-seat parliament, the first time that happened since women were given the right to vote and run for office in 2005. That same month, Dalia Grybauskaite, the outgoing European Union budget commissioner, became the first woman elected President of Lithuania.
Fact is, besides my wife, our daughter has no shortage of role models to choose from. There’s Germany’s Chancellor, Angela Merkel, who four years ago became the first woman to lead Western Europe’s most populous nation. Or Christine Lagarde, the first female Finance Minister of France. And, closer to home, she could do worse than emulate the likes of Harvard Law School professor Elizabeth Warren, who is making headlines of her own as the chair of the TARP Congressional Oversight Committee, the group that Congress charged with overseeing how the Treasury Department manages the bank bailout.
Of course, when it comes to women who discovered that the sky is the limit, few can compare to the late pioneering aviator, Amelia Earhart. Seventy-seven years ago, Earhart flew a red Lockheed Vega 5B plane solo from Harbor Grace, Newfoundland, to Londonderry, Ireland, in 13 ½. Asked afterwards about her solo nonstop trip across the Atlantic, Earheart became a role model for all people when she said, “My particular inner desire to fly the Atlantic alone was nothing new with me. I had flown Atlantics before. Everyone has his own Atlantics to fly.”
A movie about Earhart, appropriately entitled Amelia, opens on Friday, October 23rd. You’d be wise to see it, especially if you think, like the late novelist Marilyn French, who reportedly defined feminism as “the belief that women matter as much as men do,” that female empowerment is critical to the development of young girls.
Looking at my beautiful daughter asleep in her bed each night, that’s an easy concept for me to buy into.
Douglas Gladstone is a journalist by training who now works as a public information officer for a governmental agency. He and his wife, Karen, reside in New York and are the proud parents of a daughter, Jovie, who was born on the anniversary of the day they met.