Congratulations on starting school this year! You are five years old and have already lived in four different houses and two different continents; You are so cool!
I know you are very excited for what is to come in your life. I know you already cannot wait to be independent one day and move out, even though you have great parents. I know you have big dreams of your own apartment, exciting trips, and a cool job.
Let me begin by saying that you as a girl are very lucky to have been born in the late 20th century. Unless many women before you, you will have the right to make decision whether these be concerning politics, your career, or your spouse. In four years, you will move to a country where women did not even have the right to vote until thirty years ago!
Still, all of your dreams would be easier to achieve if you were a boy. Even fifteen years later.
In the next fifteen years, you will often be reduced to your weight. In P.E. you will feel more comfortable in loose pants. Going out you will see boys scan your body and walk away. Your friends will cry on your shoulder, because they gained weight.
In 2016, 66% of German women will still be unhappy with their body. Women’s confidence will be on a general decline, which will greatly affect them: 89% will opt out of important life activities if they do not feel good about their look on that specific day. Just because of their looks!
This has a lot to do with pressure from media. You will grow up with magazines, ads, and television telling you to look a certain way. They will tell you how to dress to ‘hide your problem areas’ and what to do to ‘keep him interested’ or to ‘get any guy’. Women in movies will all seem prettier than you.
69% of women will feel and suffer from a permanent pressure from the media in 2016. Living in a modern country, you will be more aware of this pressure, however, you will face increasing tension to ‘be it all’ and ‘do it all.’ You will be pressured into taking sewing instead of crafting class. You will hear classmates say that as a girl it ‘is excusable’ to be bad at sciences or math. You will be in all-girls-class, because humanities are so much more popular with girls, since few girls are truly encouraged to pursue sciences.
In the next fifteen years, the gender pay gap in Germany will not change. Women will still earn 21% less than men on average. Only 18% of CEOs will be women, because half of us will work part time due to family reasons.
In fifteen years, a woman will run for president in the US. She will be called a witch, because she had a successful career and voices her opinion. She will lose to a man, who openly disrepects and degrades women.
In fifteen years, the world still has so many issues concerning women’s rights. Yes, we have made progress, and politicians are moaning about having to address women’s right again, but there is still a lot to be done. The word ‘feminist’ has turned into a slur, yet we must keep on fighting.
We must keep on fighting every day to achieve equal rights, a better body image, and more confidence for girls and women everywhere. Germany is far from perfect, but the situation is much worse in many other countries across the world.
Dear Layla, I encourage you to keep dreaming big. Keep dreaming of independence, a career, travels, and a good life, because you can and you will achieve those dreams. It will be harder for you, because you are a girl, but your life will also be extra cali fragilistic expialidocious, because you are a girl.
Keep being a bossy, nasty, proud woman, Layla.
Happy International Women’s Day!