President Barack Obama and his daughters, Malia, left, and Sasha, watch television as First Lady Michelle Obama delivers a speech, in the Treaty Room of the White House.
Earlier this year, when President Obama declared himself a feminist, he pointed to Congresswoman Shirley Chisholm, his mother, his grandmother, the First Lady — and his daughters.
“When you’re the father of two daughters, you become even more aware of how gender stereotypes pervade our society,” he said earlier this year. “You see the subtle and not-so-subtle social cues transmitted through culture. You feel the enormous pressure girls are under to look and behave and even think a certain way.”
In my travels, I’ve met countless women and girls who point to their fathers as critical sources of support. They aren’t alone. Around the world, dads and daughters advance gender equality through their personal relationships, from the dad who gives his daughter a pep talk before she asks for a raise, to the daughter who convinces her father to stop her newborn baby sister from undergoing female genital mutilation/cutting.
While you don’t have to be a father to understand, support, or advocate for the empowerment and equality of women and girls, it’s a point of personal connection that can illustrate both the need for equality and the capacity we have in our lives to take action.
That’s why the State Department is launching #DadsAndDaughters — a campaign we hope will start a global conversation about dads, daughters, and gender equality.
For the first two weeks in October — including October 11, which marks the International Day of the Girl — we want to hear your stories of how dads and daughters buck stereotypes, change cultural attitudes, and support each other by advancing gender equality.
How to Get Involved
Post a photo, video, or a blog on social media using #DadsAndDaughters to tell us how your own daughter or father — or a daughter and father relationship — has helped you to think differently about the strength of girls and women, and the potential for fathers to advance equality.
Here are some questions that can help you share your story:
- Was there ever a time your views on gender equality changed because of something your dad/daughter said or did?
- What kind of influence has your dad/daughter had on your life?
- What’s the most important lesson you learned from your dad/daughter?
- What moment in your life were you most proud of your dad/daughter?
- What advice would you give for fathers raising their own daughters?
#DadsAndDaughters Stories We Love
Throughout the campaign, we’re highlighting some of our favorite stories of dads, daughters, and gender equality.
Mohamed and Fatima, Morocco
Housewife or student: these are two divergent paths for many girls around the world. For Fatima, a young woman living in Morocco, it was not impossible for her to become a housewife, given her cultural background. But with the support of her father Mohamed, she not only stayed in school but excelled in it.
“He always took me to school,” Fatima said about her father. “He was always there. He came to my awards ceremonies. That is just his mentality”
Asked to describe a moment she was most proud of her father, Fatima points to the time she had the opportunity to travel to the United States as part of a secondary school scholarship program. Despite family pressure to say no, Mohamed trusted his daughter to be a part of the program. To him, Fatima is worth the investment.
Read more about this dad and daughter story, including Mohamed’s advice for other fathers, here.
Stay tuned for more stories coming soon…
About the Author: Catherine Russell serves as Ambassador-at-Large for Global Women’s Issues at the U.S. Department of State.
Editor’s Note: This story also appears in the State Department’s Foggy Bottom Publication on Medium.com.
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