The other day, I walked into the dining room to see my daughter sitting at the table, writing. I was instantly curious. While she has many interests, writing has been more slow-going for my 1st-grader. She’s often timid about not being able to spell words correctly and generally needs a lot of encouragement to practice on her own. But then I got a closer look, and realized what she was working on.
The other day, I gave her a copy of Writing Our Rights, an “empowerment workbook” for girls made by iGniTE National, an organization that focuses on building the next generation of female political leaders. Unlike most activity books for girls, its pages aren’t filled with flowery scenes of rainbows and unicorns and butterflies.
Instead, each page is filled with famous, inspirational quotes from some of the most iconic female women in history. Women like Susan B. Anthony, Sandra Day O’Connor, Catherine Cortez Masto, and Hillary Clinton (to name a few). And alongside each of the quotes is a colorful portrait of the woman who belongs to each one.
The workbook is meant to be several things. First and foremost, it’s a tool for practicing handwriting. Underneath the quotes, there are lined spaces where girls can copy down the famous words each woman has said. All the pages have an easy-to-tear edge, so that their favorite ones can be torn out and turned into posters to proudly display their work.
But the book is also meant to inspire a new generation of female leadership through the words of history’s most powerful women, who all shared in one important belief — that women are powerful, capable, and can accomplish anything they put their minds to.
While it certainly hits the mark in terms of its ability to inspire, another reason my own daughter was interested in the workbook is because it not only promotes practicing print writing, but also cursive. Cursive isn’t taught in most schools anymore, but it still seems to be an important skill. Things like learning to sign your name or read historical texts are still crucial, especially for the next generation of leaders. But as far as my daughter’s concerned, she’s just thrilled to have another opportunity to practice her “fancy letters.”
Like most kids, my daughter has a love of stories, especially those about powerful women she can relate to or somehow see herself in. And I get why her interest was piqued — she wanted to read about what the women had accomplished, look at their pictures, and practice writing the quotes, without any nudging from me. As a parent, it’s a wonderful thing to watch your child motivated on their own to learn about anything. But it’s especially thrilling to see young girls take an interest in the influential women that came before them.
Talking about powerful women and celebrating their lasting influence is important, because the messages that lie in their various stories have the ability to resonate and inspire young girls who may one day walk in their footsteps. And it’s never been more important to raise girls who are fired up, and believe in their own abilities.
While women make up 51 percent of the population, we are still drastically underrepresented in positions of political leadership. However, since the presidential election, more women than ever have been coming forward with plans to seek political office on all levels. So this unique workbook certainly feels timely, and like a great opportunity to spread that message of leadership to our young daughters, who are growing up in a time where women are embracing their abilities to lead and to foster change.
“The book couldn’t come at a more opportune moment in our nation’s history,” Anne Moses, the president and founder of iGNite, tells Babble. “Young women across America have never been more inspired to own their fair share of political power! We aim to reach girls at a critical age — just when they are developing their identity and sense of self, so they can realize capacity to become the next generation of political leaders.”
We all won’t raise the next great leader, but the more tools young girls have at their disposal to help them envision greatness, the more likely they’ll be to embrace it. Powerful role-models are so important and that’s exactly why this incredible workbook has the power to educate, motivate, and inspire. No matter what they do, we need our daughters to believe in their own abilities to create change. That will be the beginning of the real revolution.