I have a newly minted 10-year-old and, yes, nostalgia has set in.
But mostly, with this birthday, it’s occurred to me that she is a mere eight years away from adulthood — and the world’s not yet the kind of place I want to send her out into.
We’d better get crackin’.
So, dear world, here’s what I’d like you to accomplish in the next 8 to 10 years. I’m happy to help, because it really does take a village.
Elect a Woman President
You know those moments when suddenly reality just hits you, full-force? I had one of those a few years ago. My daughter was curious about U.S. presidents, so we checked out a book on them from the library. And immediately saw this image:
“Mama, how come they’re all boys?” my daughter asked.
It’s hard to tell your daughter in one breath that she can be anything she wants — including president of the United States — and then show her that picture, evidence that no woman has ever done it.
“Somebody has to be first, and it might as well be you,” my husband and I tell our kids. And, certainly, we’d be proud to be the parents of the first woman U.S. president.
But I truly hope we won’t be. Our country has no shortage of smart, kind and innovative woman leaders who would make outstanding Commanders In Chief.
I don’t care about your political leanings: It’s time to elect a woman president.
My girls aren’t eligible for another 25 years. They can be third and fourth.
Make Progress on #MeToo
What does “progress” look like?
Progress means teaching our children that, no, “boys will be boys” isn’t a thing, that we should always treat each other with kindness and respect, that “no” is a complete statement, and that “stop” means “stop right away.”
Progress means teaching our children that that’s how they should treat people — and how they deserve to be treated.
Progress means believing victims of sexual assault so they’re more likely to report.
Progress also means giving defendants the presumption of innocence … But then, if they’re found guilty, giving them stiff consequences for their criminal acts.
Will we rid the world of sexual assault by 2029? Nope. But progress? That we can do.
Paid maternity/paternity leave
About 16 hours after my son was born (via emergency c-section), my husband’s boss called.
Not to congratulate us on the birth of our child — to pressure my husband into returning to work.
I was still in the hospital.
When my third child was born, I called my employer to ask about maternity leave. “We have no such thing,” the HR manager told me.
In addition: My employer recently had moved to an “unlimited paid time off” plan. Sounds great, right? “Everyone gets as much vacation as they want!”
“Unlimited PTO” means your employer owes you no paid time off. So if, for example, you have a baby or your parent is dying, you can’t “save up” vacation days to use when you need them.
You’re entirely dependent on your employer letting you off of work.
Sometimes employers say “no”. And even if they say “yes”, those days off are likely to be unpaid — and not everyone can afford that.
So may I just say, even though it seems obvious, that if we as Americans agree that families are important (We agree on that, right?), then making sure people can have a freakin’ baby without losing their jobs should be standard practice.
We don’t have to start with 12 weeks of PTO. Let’s just start with two — enough time to, you know, actually recover from, say, a c-section — and go from there.
That’s not a big ask. That’s a reasonable expectation.
Make a Dent In All Those Statistics
You know the numbers I’m talking about: Women earn less than men for doing the same work, are far less likely than men to lead corporate board rooms, are given a tiny fraction of start-up funds compared to their male counterparts …
About 15 years ago, my female colleague and I were discussing our office’s workload with our male colleagues, who would never do things like answering the telephones or updating our newspaper’s events calendar, even though we all were expected to help out.
One of the men said this to us (true story, real quote): “We can’t help it. Men’s brains just aren’t designed to think of those things.”
I paused just long enough to roll my eyes. Then I said this (the same message I have, today, for the world):
“Oh, good Lord. Evolve already. It’s time.”