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Miriam Gonzlez Durntez: Why I'm calling on brilliant British women to go back to school

October 9, 2013 1:53 PM
By Mary Reid in Liberal Democrat Voice
Originally published by East Midlands Liberal Democrats

Miriam González Durántez has written for The Telegraph about how to provide good role models for girls.

She writes:

"The UK, and Europe in general, is without any doubt one of the best places in the world to be a woman, if not the best. We can vote, we can work, we can travel, we have access to education, we can own and inherit property, we can speak freely, we are the masters of our own emotional lives. It is often easy to take all this for granted.

And yet while men are able to toy with unlimited options, we still face a series of stark choices. If we do not have children, people assume we are "frustrated". If we stay at home taking care of our children, it is said we are "not working". If we have a job, we are portrayed as just "part-time mums", and sometimes even as bad parents. If we succeed in our professional lives, we're branded "scary"; if we follow fashion, we're "shallow"; if we like science, we're "geeks"; if we read women's magazines, we're "fluffy"; and if we defend our rights, we're "hard".

She points out that "according to research by Girlguiding UK, 55 per cent of girls aged between 11 and 21 say they feel there are not enough female role models."

She goes on to describe Inspiring the Future, an organisation that provides those much needed role models for girls in schools.

"… if you are a woman of any kind with an interesting life story to tell - which means pretty much every single woman in the country - all you have to do is to click onto Inspiring the Future to register to give an hour a year to visit a school near home or work to make a difference to young people's lives."

I have done just that. Miriam concludes:

"The new generation of girls are clever, engaged and curious; they are ambitious, but in a realistic way; they are not afraid of hard work and they are determined to shine. It is our duty to guarantee that all that potential does not go to waste. Those girls should not have to limit their dreams and feel constrained by absurd and demeaning stereotypes. They should rather feel free to aim high - high in their jobs, and high in their lives.

"Female role models are there by the legions. You, the woman reading this article, you are one of them."

Irony alert: the BBC covers this story under the headline "Girls need more career help, says Clegg's wife Miriam".

* Mary Reid is the Tuesday Editor on Lib Dem Voice.