I have three daughters under the age of 12 and this weekend will involve the usual parenting hamster wheel of activities where I seem to keep running without actually going anywhere. Dog walks, musical theatre, contemporary dance, gymnastics, auditions and a birthday party to wrap presents for, drop off and pick up from. Oh how nostalgic I am for my leisurely single Saturdays. But this weekend there’s another activity I want to squeeze into the schedule that actually brings a little of my single past to my parental present.
Amidst my children’s social life, I want to introduce a social conscious. As they learn to speak out in drama class, I also want to show them what it means to speak up in the drama of life.
I am taking them to the Women on Washington Ireland march for their first foray into formal feminism (I hope we live it casually at home the rest of the time). I want them to see how women are celebrating the strides previous marchers have made, and to let them be part of a movement that will carry on with them and for them, even if they don’t really understand much of what that means just yet.
My eldest girl is on the cusp of that terrifying teenage territory, her rebellious tongue already flexing it’s cutting muscle. But she is also on the cusp of a territory that still has the potential to harm her, hold her back, intimidate and shame her. My younger girls still hold that wonderful belief that the world is theirs for the taking. When they look up, there is no glass ceiling, only a limitless sky. They need to know they are part of a fight to keep it that way.
As a single parent, I had initially wondered how I might manage to go to the march on my own. But realising what a momentous moment this is, I have decided to bring them with me. I don’t anticipate any bra burning, and plan staying on the outskirts so we can make a swift getaway. But I want them to see a thriving, striving, seething mass of female fury and friendship, so that when they learn about the women before them - the suffragettes, the civil rights campaigners, the anti-war protestors, those that have marched in this country for gay rights, reproductive rights, equal rights, the right to divorce a man who beats you - that they understand they are part of the same movement of change.
I want my daughters to know they deserve to earn exactly the same as the boys they know. I want my daughters to grow up these next few years safe in the knowledge that they will not be poked or groped or joked about, or told to smile and ‘cheer up’ and ‘come here love’ because it titillates a man.
Women’s March Global is committed to equality, diversity, and inclusion, reinforcing that women’s rights are human rights. I want my girls to know that their voices can be strong, that their voices can join others and that their voices matter.
I have no doubt they will be bored, unimpressed and we probably won’t stay for the whole event. But in the years to come when something doesn’t sit right with them, when they feel afraid, confused, shamed, outraged, I can remind them that they stood head to waist with hundreds of thousands of other women across the world because their fear, their confusion, their shame, and most of all their outrage, matters.
Thousands of people are expected to march on Washington, possibly more than on Inauguration Day itself. A further 615 marches worldwide will take place (four in Ireland - Dublin, Galway, Castlebar and Belfast), with an estimated 1,364,010 pairs of manicured and unmanicured feet paving the way for my daughters to live in the world they see now - where they are respected for who they are and what they can be. In moments of disharmony, I tell them their sisters are likely to be the most important people in their lives when they get older. I also need to show them that they have sisters everywhere.
Alana Kirk is the author of Daughter, Mother, Me; A memoir of love, loss and dirty dishes.Published by Hachette Ireland. The Women’s March sets off from The Garden of Remembrance at noon on Saturday 21st of January for more see @womensmarchire