To my 12-year-old on International Women's Day

Dear Jessica,

Today is International Women's Day, and this has made me think a lot about our world and what's important to teach you as you grow up in it.

The world is teaching you that your value is in your appearance.  The world is teaching you that your male classmates come first.  The world is teaching you that someone else should be in control of what you look like and how you behave and who you love.

And I'm just not okay with that.

I want to teach you that you can look like whatever you want to look like, and that this decision is up to you and you alone.  That your presentation choices do not change your value as a person.

I want to teach you that you and your friends, male or female, all deserve equal opportunities in the workplace and in the world.  That your gender should not affect your salary.

I want to teach you to be strong when you want to be strong and gentle when you want to be gentle and to never be confused about the fact that you can and should be both.

I want to teach you that being a woman is an awesome thing.  A beautiful thing.  A bold, strong, amazing thing that requires no apologies.

I want to teach you that there is no right or wrong way to be a woman.  You can dress girly or masculine.  You can like flowers or football.  You can stay home with babies or work 40 hour weeks or bake cookies or govern countries and no single one of these things will make you more or less a woman.

I know that, right now, this world is confusing.  It doesn't yet know your worth.  It doesn't yet see you like I see you and like God sees you - for everything you are and everything you will be.

But I want you to know that you are surrounded by amazing women who are fighting for you and for your future.  We are fighting for your right to do and say and be whoever you want to be.

And I will always be here, standing with you and fighting for you.

Because you, my dear, and all the other girls out there, are now and always will be worth fighting for.

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