Heroes for Girls Are Everywhere

“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.

4 thoughts on “Heroes for Girls Are Everywhere

  1. Thanks for writing this article! With two girls myself, having role models for them to learn about is definitely key. I look forward to sharing your thoughts with my girls as they get older.

  2. Good on you for an article on the girls. Too often we see male role models in our society (Australia). Down-under our culture is sooo dominated by sports and therefore male role models that it is less obvious to find the daily rioe models for our girls. Go girls.

  3. Really nice piece, Doug! As a father of 3 daughers, I am increasingly encouraged by how many tremendous female role models there really are out there!

    I’m also reminded of a quote I love, “Well-behved women rarely make history.” We need to push our daughters to be the best version of themselves they can be, and provide them the support they need in that journey.

    -B

  4. Loved it. And, I loved your comment Ben. I love the quote, and it is certainly true of many women who paved the way for us to have the right to vote and other rights, but some of the best role models (Mother Theresa, Nancy Reagan, Eleanore Roosevelt, Amelia Earheart – I hear there is a great book out about her life!) have been what i would consider pretty well-behaved. Perhaps it lies in your definition of well-behaved? I think now on those remarkable women who have been beaten and given their lives in the recent riots in Iran. Many are nameless but have laid down their life for the prospect of freedom and to protest what they believed wrong. I’m inspired but these unconventional, brave, courageous and not well-behaved women!

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