This January there will be no female president moving into the White House, despite the hopes of so many. On election day, I ran into a woman and her young daughter at the polls. The child said, “We voted for the first girl.” Many people, men and women, were hoping that putting Hillary Clinton in the nation’s top job would break glass ceilings for women everywhere and show young women and little girls that anything is possible. Politics aside, let’s get the message to our daughters that the election is not a reflection of what they can do with their lives.
In the days after November 8, there was so much talk of disappointment. But more importantly there was talk about letting our girls know that they CAN do anything. Clinton said it herself during her concession speech, “And to all the little girls who are watching this, never doubt that you are valuable and powerful and deserving of every chance and opportunity in the world to pursue and achieve your own dreams.”
My own two daughters, who are determined to make their mark in this world and help make it better, asked me what Clinton’s loss meant for their futures as women. I told them both, like my father told me, “You can do anything you set your mind to.” And I added that they have years ahead of them to use their education and talents to move mountains.
The confidence building starts early and it should go on every day. I know that because I had a father who showed me in many ways at an early age that I was beautiful, worthy, and that I could depend on his strong arms to hold me when needed.
By age five I somehow knew he always had my back and that helped me to walk with confidence. It also helped that my mother showed me the example of how to be a strong and soft woman. A mother who could kiss a knee when needed and a woman who went to work every day as a teacher contributing to the household.
Hillary Clinton showed all of those sides too. She raised a daughter in the White House while performing her duties as First Lady. She fought her way to the Democratic nomination with experience, toughness and steadfastness. She may have lost but for our young women she remains historically an example of how far they can go if they do their best. That’s all you can do—your best.
Women have so many great examples to spur us on. We have Harriet Tubman who helped free thousands of slaves on the Underground Railroad. Susan B. Anthony led the fight for women to vote and won. Margaret Thatcher showed the world a woman could lead and became Britain’s first female Prime Minister. Shirley Chisholm was the first black woman elected to the House of Representatives in 1968. Amelia Earhart showed we could do what men were doing and one-up them. In 1932 she made the first transcontinental non-stop flight by a woman. Sonia Sotomayor became the third female and first Hispanic Supreme Court Justice in 2009. Madeline Albright became the first female Secretary of State in 1997. Let us not forget Oprah, who captured the hearts of many around the world. Michelle Obama was the first black First Lady. She showed the world how to fight for women’s rights, how to raise two daughters in a respectful and loving way and how to help our children take better care of themselves with diet and exercise.
And there are many female inventors who have changed our world. But I’ll share just two. Marie Van Brittan Brown was the first person to develop the patent for closed circuit television security. Her 1969 patent became the framework for our modern closed-circuit system used today for surveillance.
Grace Hopper Howard Aiken designed Harvard’s Mark I computer in 1944. The room-sized machine weighed five tons. It translated written language into computer code, which led to the coining of the terms “bug” and “debugging”.
And we are in the money. The front of the new $20 dollar bill will feature the portrait of Harriet Tubman.
If there is disappointment in your house about a woman losing the White House, take the time to talk your girls about where we have been. Explore our firsts beyond the obvious. It will give them things to dream about because the women I mentioned here at one time could only dream it. Eventually they made those dreams come true. Young women and girls—and some of us older ones too—we are going places.
Lisa Robinson is a news anchor for WBAL-TV.