Daughters: a divine gift

For centuries, gender discrimination has been widespread within communities across the globe. Most families prefer to have sons rather than daughters

Tasneem HossainTasneem Hossain
Published : 25 Sept 2022, 10:07 AM
Updated : 25 Sept 2022, 10:07 AM
I hope that my daughter grows up empowered and doesn’t define herself by the way she looks but by qualities that make her an intelligent, strong, and responsible woman.
Isaiah Mustafa

Society has a frame of mind that daughters or girl children must be beautiful to be worthy. What can be more ridiculous than this? Even in this civilized age, our mindset has changed very little regarding daughters. On the contrary, sons are, almost, always welcome in homes. They don’t need to be fair and handsome to have value.

Children are the best gifts for parents from our Creator - be it a male child or a girl child.

Regrettably, that’s not the case in many communities and countries regarding daughters. There’s a stigma attached.

‘My life starts with apprehensions in the mother’s womb,

Birth of a girl means it will be a doom.

Prayers not a daughter but a glorious boy,

Curse for the household will be this unlucky ploy.

In secrets my destiny will be an earthy tomb.

Women, you frown, are at fault always;

My life is forever ablaze.

Stormy winds seldom seize,

My life is always a lease.’

For centuries, gender discrimination has been widespread within communities across the globe. Most families prefer to have sons rather than daughters. Women are sometimes chastised for giving birth to a girl. Girls in poor households are frequently considered burdens. Such beliefs have led to many social evils, including female foeticide and infanticide. Daughters in the patriarchal society have fewer equal rights than sons; while this is less common in big cities, it’s still prevalent in rural parts of many countries. Women have always been viewed as second-class citizens to men. Her life is predominantly governed by either a father, brother, husband, in-laws or sons. She isn’t allowed to make independent choices or decisions. Women only got the right to vote in 1920 after a long struggle.

Great emphasis has been placed on the importance of sons, especially in the area of inheritance, neglecting the daughters. In royalty too, lines of successions allow sons to inherit from the father (though this tradition has been changed in The Succession to the Crown Act, 2013, for the British royal family). Sons are considered to be the ones who continue to uphold the family name.

However, through ages, daughters defying all barriers have also upheld the family name or proven their worth in establishing a name in many fields. The Queen of England herself is a testimony. Florence Nightingale, Marie Curie, Mother Teresa, Margaret Thatcher, Indira Gandhi, Malala Yousafzai, Jacinda Ardern, Sheikh Hasina are just a few names. The list goes on. In Finland’s coalition government all five party leaders are women. At 34, Finland’sPrime Minister, Sanna Marin is the world’s youngest head of state, and three of her other coalition leaders are younger than 35. Spain also has a majority of women in cabinet roles. Their contributions to society cannot be understated.

Despite these facts, and the development in education and increased awareness campaigns by NGOs and the government, the preference for sons persists in innumerable households.

Give me an educated mother, I shall promise you the birth of a civilized, educated nation.
Napoleon Bonaparte

Doesn’t it ring a bell for us to recognise the crucial role our daughters play in our lives?

The significance of daughters, especially in maintaining family bonds, is remarkable. Daughters are representations of unconditional love and selflessness. Their careful parenting is crucial for the growth and development of children. Their unfaltering contributions are no way less than men. In many households, daughters are the sole breadwinners. They sacrifice their happiness to contribute to their families-can anyone deny that?

For parents, a daughter is a Godsend. She will go to lengths to keep families together (of course, sons also do their part. But this article deals with the daughter’s commitment).

More importantly, as a human being, she has every right to be treated equally in all spheres of life: be it education, freedom of choice or social security.

Sadly, girls are married off at an early age; deprived of educational opportunities and face unwarranted cultural beliefs and social norms around gender roles and inequality.

Our daughters love us passionately and win our hearts. They have unconditional love for their families and friends. Sometimes, when needed, they protect us fiercely. They take care of us when we are sick and look after our needs. Daughters, rightfully, deserve to grow and learn at their own pace just like any other person in the world.

International Daughters’ Day is celebrated on the fourth Sunday in September, each year, to celebrate the girl child. This day originated in India as a way to combat the stigma associated with giving birth to a daughter. This year it falls on 25 September. One doesn’t need a reason to put aside a day to celebrate the blessing of a daughter. However, many unjust patriarchal societies still view daughters as inferior to sons. So governments of some countries, in an attempt to encourage equality, decided to add daughter's day as a national festival.

It’s a day to celebrate and honour our daughters, who bring so much love into our lives; to raise public awareness about the importance of girls receiving equal rights and opportunities. The day acknowledges the joy of having and raising a daughter; promotes the idea that girls are intelligent, empathetic, self-reliant, and dependable members of society. Though thoughts have changed a little through the years still there’s a long journey ahead to break the barriers for our daughters.

Cherish and celebrate your daughter’s existence daily. Let her know how wonderful she is; express your love and appreciation. Do something that she enjoys. Spend the day with her. Listen to her ambitions and dreams and extend your support in fulfilling her aspirations. If you listen properly, you will be amazed at how admirable and pragmatic she is!

Governments and agencies are working towards bridging the gap between genders to create equal opportunities. It’s a day in an attempt to right some historical wrongdoings against daughters; to acknowledge that daughters have as much potential as sons to change the world.

You need to start NOW: treat your daughter well and create an environment that’s gender-sensitive and inclusive; a better world where she feels equally liberated.

Daughters are angels from above who fill our lives with magic and undying love; empathy and kindness. We should feel blessed and lucky to have them in our lives.

Mothers of daughters are daughters of mothers and have remained so, in circles joined to circles, since time began.
Signe Hammer

This is so true for us. Our daughter brightens our lives with motherly love. She goes to lengths to take care of us. She amazes us with her great personality.

She is my best friend.

My Daughter

Soft and gentle as the spring rain,

Pure and innocent as the white lily on the plains;

Bright as the stars, shining like the sun,

Forever kind and so divine;

The sweet little fairy that is rare.

Proud and lucky are we to have you as ours.

​- Dedicated to my daughter Shirleen and all our daughters in the world.

BRAVO daughters! You have the strength to pull it through even when the odds are against you. Keep marching and break that glass ceiling!

Start the countdown,

I am not going to breakdown;

No matter how big the fleet,

I will not accept defeat.

Daughters, go and get what you want with your love, conviction, confidence and indomitable spirit. This world is yours as anyone else’s- we are with you.

[Tasneem Hossain is a multilingual poet, columnist, op-ed and fiction writer, translator and training consultant. She is the Director of Continuing Education Centre, Bangladesh.]

References:

1. Roushan, Anurag, International Daughters' Day 2021: Know Its History, Significance And Other Details, R.REPUBLICWORLD.COM, Sept 26, 2021.

Toufique Imrose Khalidi
Editor-in-Chief and Publisher