Last week, on International Women’s Day, I picked up Mazzy from school and instead of our normal route home, I took her on a little detour through Washington Square Park. I took her there because I knew a rally was currently in progress.
While Mazzy chose not to accompany me to the Women’s March in NYC (which turned out to be a good call), I thought passing a group of women (and men and children) standing up for Women’s Rights in a park she frequents regularly would be an easy and unthreatening way to expose her to what’s currently going on.
Ever since we started reading “Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls” (more on that soon), Mazzy has been learning a lot about how women have had to fight for their rights throughout history. It felt a little sad to inform my baby that the world is not a perfect place but she’s learning about slavery in school too, so as a parent, you just have to come to grips and adjust. I’ve come to realize that I don’t want injustices to take my daughters by surprise and I’m happy that our school is teaching the children to be activists for their community.
In fact, when I arrived at school to pick her up, Mazzy commented on what I was wearing.
“You’re wearing all red today, Mommy,” she said with a knowing gleam in her eye.
“Were your teachers wearing red today, too?” I asked her.
“Yep. Both of them.”
“Do you know why?”
“It’s for International Women’s Day.”
I told her about where we were headed and she reacted positively. She got even more excited when I let her stop at the ice cream truck along the way and then again when we saw the massive amounts of people wearing red heading for the Arch in Washington Square Park.
“Now what happens?” she asked. I wasn’t sure. My main point was to show her what it looked like to be active and involved, but we were there at the tail end of the rally so it was hard to hear one rallying cry or intention. It was also really crowded and as we wound our way around the fountain to find the clearest path to exit, her hand clenched in mine, I began to question my decision to take her there.
It was at that moment that we were approached by two women, Katie Henry and Ashley Glass, who said they were from The When Project. They explained that they were taking empowering photos of young girls and asking them what they will do when they become president. They asked me if I would like Mazzy to participate.
Mazzy has a tendency to clam up when asked a question by a grown-up and is not always up for taking a photo, so I told her that it was up to her.
I was surprised when she agreed without any prodding. She thought about it, handed me the napkin from her ice cream, took a step back and posed.
Hands on hips, head held tall and her front tooth still missing in a big proud smile. Then she said, “When I become President, I will tell all the people that they are very good, helpful and very nice.”
Typical, Mazzy. Always thinking of other people and trying to make them feel loved. A pretty good quality for a President if you ask me.
The When Project posted Mazzy’s picture on their Instagram account and I asked Katie and Ashley if I could email them a few questions to feature their initiative on my blog. Because there is really no cause I can get behind more than empowering young girls and making them feel like Mazzy did when she took that picture on International Women’s Day in the park.
It was beautiful.
What made you start the project?
Studies show after 7 years-old, girls stop believing they can become President because they don’t see a woman in office. If girls can’t see a woman in the highest office, the very least we can do is show them fellow girls their age who strongly believe they can make it there one day. Confidence can be contagious. Every week, we head into the streets of New York City and ask girls what they’ll do when they become President and take an empowering photo of them. Afterwards, we tell them they truly can become President one day. If just for a few seconds, this inspires girls to picture themselves as President which they may not normally do. We feature the pictures along with their quotes on The When Project Instagram page (@thewhenproject). These pictures and quotes will become a living and breathing tribute to a future female presidency and even more importantly, girl power.
What is your goal?
1) We clearly want to see a female U.S. President one day – no matter how long it takes.
2) We want to see more females in leadership positions across the U.S. in both government and business.
3) We want to inspire girls at a young age to see an attainable world that they can positively affect and lead.
What was the most surprising thing a girl ever said she would do as president?
The most surprising thing a girl has ever said was that she would get rid of ISIS. When you see a 12 year-old girl saying that she would wipe out one of the most threatening Terrorist groups in the world and throw a flexed arm up in the air, there’s nothing like it.
What do you think is the most pressing woman’s issue in jeopardy right now?
Violence against females worldwide. In the U.S. alone, three women a day, on average, are killed in domestic homicides.
What is your favorite inspirational quote about women or girls?
“Above all, be the heroine of your life, not the victim.” – Nora Ephron
What would you want to impart to your own girls about what’s challenging in today’s society?
Beware of the status quo. Never get caught up in it. If you think something you’re being taught is wrong for you, unlearn it. Follow your heart and stand strong against societal pressures.
What would you want to impart to your own girls about what’s possible?
Anything and everything is possible if you want it bad enough. Dream BIG. Work HARD.