What can we do as parents to ensure we’re raising our daughters to be future role models?

What can we do as parents to ensure we’re raising our daughters to be future role models?

I am blessed to be a woman living in the UAE. In fact, our country is ranked first in the region for gender equality thanks to the many programmes and initiatives in place to provide women with equal opportunities and the chance to flourish. Our nation remains committed to gender equality and works hard to ensure that this becomes a universal human right. And as parents, we can build on this by providing our children with the right tools to become empowered global citizens.

Being the mother of a young girl, I understand first-hand the responsibilities that come with having children. Not only do we provide them with the physical essentials: a roof over their head, clothes on their back and food in their belly, but we also model morality and ethics through our everyday behaviour and beliefs. In a world where women are still often subjected to prejudice, we need to empower girls to become the kind of women that others can look up to.

So, how can we ensure we are nurturing future role models? Here are my tips on raising strong and empowered young women.

Communicate with them

Women often face challenges that men never experience. Although our country is committed to the promotion of gender equality, young girls around the world will face stereotyping or discrimination in some form throughout their lives. Pretending that this will not happen or simply ignoring it when it does, can prove tempting in the pursuit of creating a ‘perfect little bubble’ for our daughters to live in, but it will ill-prepare them for the future.

That’s why I find it crucial to be honest with my young daughter about the behaviour she may have encountered or incidents of unfairness that either she or I have come across. Teaching her to recognise these challenges, so she can stand her ground and follow her own path, will help her define who she becomes in adulthood. So too, will the understanding that diversity is a beautiful thing, and although we are not all the same, we are all equal. I truly believe that having an honest forum with someone that she trusts is a vital first step in developing a young woman who feels her voice is valued and that she matters.

Empower them

Female empowerment is essential, particularly in the UAE, where women make up 66% of public sector roles, one of the highest proportions in the world. To continue to raise generations of strong female role models, we must empower them at every opportunity.

I find that the best starting point with this is simple. I make the effort to notice the things that my daughter does. Expressing pride when she does well in a task she has been working hard to achieve, thanking her when she shows altruism by helping another and listening to her when she expresses her emotions are all small ways that I show her she matters.

Often the pressure society can place on women to be the perfect embodiment of calm and happiness can be overwhelming and is certainly unhealthy for our mental wellbeing. Allowing our daughters to express their feelings, whether anger, sadness, joy or something altogether more complicated, will help them grow into emotionally mature and confident women who can act as role models to others.

Be their role model

It sounds obvious, but the most vital step in raising a role model is to be one yourself. All children, naturally look up to their parents and emulate the behaviours that they see modelled every day. Allow them to witness parents who demonstrate kindness, empathy and tolerance toward others; express their feelings in constructive ways and embrace their own unique quirks. In doing so, you will foster the same traits in your children.

I am so grateful to raise my daughter in a nation committed to providing her with equal opportunities and a bright future. Here, our daughters can become anyone they want to be, which is the first step to ensuring they become respectable, intelligent, strong role models.

It’s incredible to see what the UAE has achieved in terms of women’s empowerment during its first half-century, I can’t wait to see what the next 50 years will bring.