#MyDreamIs ||Claire Rush

mdi 2

My dream is… not to be content with dreaming!

As I write this, I’m feeling pretty excited. In November, there’s going to be a new addition to our family as my younger sister is expecting her first child. Over the last few months as her body has gotten fuller, our conversations have been dominated with wonder, expectancy and excitement.

Who is this new member of our family? How can our hearts be filled with so much love for someone that we don’t even know yet?

One thing is certain; this baby is loved, celebrated and championed regardless of whether it is a girl or a boy.

Unfortunately, this is a rarity in too many cultures. In fact the words – ‘It’s a girl’ – can be a death sentence to a new born baby.

Our world silences, coerces, murders, limits and forgets girls. You’re more likely to go missing from the face of the earth if you’re a girl. Around 113 to 200 million girls and women are – through injustices like trafficking, honour crimes and abuse.

Last year, a group of schoolgirls were captured from their Chibok boarding school in Nigeria. 483 days on and 219 remain missing. The silence of the world is deafening. Are their lives not valuable?

And gender discrimination is not just something that happens in distant countries and exotic cultures. It happens right here, right now. In the UK, women are largely absent from boardrooms and parliaments. Many of us are silenced (with horrific misogynistic abuse) when we dare to share an opinion online. From a very young age, we’re encouraged to view our bodies as projects to be improved rather than amazing vehicles for action.

My dream is to live in a world where every girl is championed, celebrated and able to fulfil her potential.

Gender injustice is not a feminist issue. It’s not even a women’s issue. It’s our issue. As humans, we have a responsibility to recognise the value of every person.

And it starts with me. And it starts with you. Let’s wrestle with the difficult questions together.

Do we treat others as if they are valuable especially when we’re tired, hungry and in a hurry? Do we model a different way of living and being? In our relationships, do our words and actions reflect that we embrace each other’s value? Do we refuse to be lazy and believe the gender stereotypes about each other?

As men and women, are we each other’s greatest champions?

I don’t want my dream to just be a dream. I’m starting to realise that I share some responsibility for making it a reality. My actions and words matter. My actions and words shape the culture around me. Every small individual action brings us one step closer to gender justice.

So I’m celebrating women who have gone before me like Isabella Tod, an incredible Victorian activist who campaigned for Queen’s University to admit women. I’m championing the women of the present, like my friend Petra, who are courageously transforming lives and shaping society for the better. Petra, 23 and a member of Girls’ Brigade in Zambia, has established her own charity and regularly goes into the village school to education students about menstrual health, a taboo subject. I’m passionate about mentoring younger women to encourage them to unlock their full potential.

One day, the phrase ‘It’s a girl’ will no longer be a death sentence in a world where every girl and woman is celebrated, championed and able to fulfil her potential.

Let’s not be content with dreaming. Together, let’s make it a reality.