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Teaching gender equality by example

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As I prepare for my family to add two little girls I've started wondering what I have to do to create an environment where they see the equality of men and women in practice.

It's a world many of us talk about — but don't often see. Can't we do what's necessary to make it real for our children?

Children are our chance to relearn the world and what is possible. Children touch the possible and make it tangible.

As a father, I have to remove all the obstacles to their growth and development. But to remove obstacles, I have to be conscious of them and aware of how they work.

I'm sure some of us, when we find a moment alone to reflect, have a pretty positive view of who we are. That's not unreasonable. Most of us don't go around thinking we're terrible human beings. At least I hope not. Otherwise life might seem pretty bleak.

Some of us might even be very high-minded individuals, believing in equality, justice, service to humanity and the like. But how often do we practice what we believe?

Let's say you're a guy (close to a 50 per cent chance here), and you believe that women and men are essentially equal. How often does that ideal translate into practice? What does that ideal even mean in practice? One of the obstacles that I see for my little girls in the mindset that they don't have the same capacity for things that boys do, or that they should be restricted to certain areas of study, certain hobbies, certain sports.

I want to help them look past those restrictions so that they can reach their potential.

We observed International Women's Day on Tuesday; what better time than now to write about it.

When my girls are growing up, they could be in a house where mom does most of the cooking, cleaning, school prep and household tasks.

They could see mom looking after their needs at home, while dad is working, or dad is relaxing. Maybe this is just a custom in the family; mom and dad are used to that routine.

Yet, over the course of months and years of this same routine, it would probably have an effect on children and how they view their gender roles in society.

They're watching, copying and learning from adults all the time, even when we think they aren't paying attention. This is a condition of being human, we can't help it.

So maybe the little things like doing chores, cooking and fixing their clothes, can have a greater impact on my children than simply talking to them about a concept like the equality of men and women.

Every little bit helps. Now, what should I cook for breakfast?

Happy to muck in: our columnist intends to do his fair share so his daughters learn housework isn't just women's work
Preparing for fatherhood: Husayn Symonds

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Published March 10, 2016 at 8:00 am (Updated March 10, 2016 at 7:26 am)

Teaching gender equality by example

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