This Dad Wrote A Letter To His Daughters About The Importance Of Electing A Female President

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It’s bound to happen at some point, and the way things are currently going in the US, it looks like we are about to see the first female president get elected as soon as 2016. While it would be a major step forward for gender equality, the significance would go far beyond just the usual political rhetoric we see in the media. It would impact the way generations of young girls view their futures.

Today in the US, women make up 51% of the population, so that means there should be virtually an equal number of girls aspiring to be the next president, right? Wrong!

“Little boys and little girls when they’re 7 years old, an equal number want to be President of the United States when they grow up. But then you ask the same question when they’re 15 and you see this massive gap emerging,” said Dr. Caroline Heldman in the documentary ‘Miss Representation’.

There is this increasing consciousness about how we teach the younger generation, especially girls, about what is possible. The movement to encourage girls to #leanin, become leaders and grow up with the knowledge they are capable of any job because gender isn’t a prerequisite is a big deal.

In line with this thought and in view of the possibility of Hillary Clinton becoming the first female US President in 2016, a father from South Carolina decided he wanted to ensure his two daughters live in plain view of the importance of female leadership in the country.

Steve Benjamin is the mayor of Columbia, SC, and is also the president of the African American Mayors Association. He wrote a heart-felt open letter to his two daughters Bethany and Jordan Grace, which was shared on Hillary Clinton’s website, about why he hopes nothing stands in the way of their dreams.

“Growing up, I never expected to see a politician who looked like me become president. But in 2008, I watched in awe as Barack Obama ascended to the highest political office in the country…when President Obama took office, I felt like I really could do anything—truly, in a tangible way I could feel in my heart,” he begins.

Just two years later, Steve himself became the first African American Mayor in Columbia, which he acknowledges happened because people before him helped to kick down doors and barriers. This is why he wants to help do the same for other people, including his own daughters.

“When I was 29, Governor Hodges appointed me to his cabinet. He gave me the opportunity of a lifetime, and I used my position to lift up voices that weren’t being heard. I worked hard while there to bring as many women as possible onto my staff. At one point we had an all-female staff, and many of those women have gone on to do remarkable things. I did that for you two. I wanted to do everything I could to make the world a better place for you, even before you were born,” he wrote.

Both of his daughters had the chance to meet Hillary Clinton, as Steve is now helping to get her elected. He doesn’t want Bethany and Jordan Grace to ignore the fact that barriers exist, however.

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“Sometimes, things you can’t control block you from achieving your dreams. I don’t want you girls to have to wait until you’re an adult to have the feeling I had in 2008. I want you to grow up knowing—not just believing, but KNOWING—you can be anything you want, even president of the United States,” he said.

Although Hillary Clinton ran in 2008 against President Obama to become the Democratic candidate unsuccessfully, Obama’s appointment opened the doors in a huge way (including for Hillary right now) and we believe it is going to have a continual effect on the future leaders of America. There are many countries around the world electing female heads of state for the first time and it is an encouraging sign. Liberia, Bangladesh, Croatia, and Nepal just to name a few. But because America is considered the most powerful country in the world, it is high time a female president got elected.

“I am doing everything I can to put a woman in the White House because I believe both of you can grow up to be president—and I want you to believe it, too,” concludes Steve in his letter.

And by the way, Steve is one of many men who are working to get Hillary Clinton elected in 2016. A group called Hillary Men launched a website a number of months ago to show that it is not just women who want to see more women get elected. Created by former Clinton campaign digital strategist Peter Daou and Columbia lecturer Tom Watson, Hillary Men is designed to be a platform where men (including some loud and proud male feminists) can help fight back against sexism, and push back against the view that only women back Hillary.

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They of course also hope this grassroots organization will help the US elect its first female president. Ahmir Rashid, a 34 year old Clinton campaign volunteer who also helps run the Hillary Men site says they have become increasingly aware of the sexism that still exists and they want to help shed light on it and stop it.

“I, by no means, want to say we’re speaking on behalf of women or in place of them. We’re just calling out the bias that exists that Peter and Tom usually see. There’s been pushback of people saying Hillary men must be gay, or whipped, or some other sundry term for being under female control. It shows the need for calling out a gender bias that exists,” he told Yahoo.

It should be a no-brainer that a female president is going to be representing ALL genders, not just women, so it only makes sense that men start to stand alongside women in positions of leadership and help break down stigma. The more this happens, the more girls like Bethany and Jordan Grace Benjamin grow up in a world knowing they can aspire to do great things in the world just as much as the boys.

Bring on 2016!

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