State Department Launches #DadsAndDaughters Campaign

Earlier this year, when President Obama declared himself a feminist, he pointed to Congresswoman Shirley Chisholm, his mother, his grandmother, the First Lady — and his daughters.

“When you’re the father of two daughters, you become even more aware of how gender stereotypes pervade our society,” he said earlier this year. “You see the subtle and not-so-subtle social cues transmitted through culture. You feel the enormous pressure girls are under to look and behave and even think a certain way.”

In my travels, I’ve met countless women and girls who point to their fathers as critical sources of support. They aren’t alone. Around the world, dads and daughters advance gender equality through their personal relationships, from the dad who gives his daughter a pep talk before she asks for a raise, to the daughter who convinces her father to stop her newborn baby sister from undergoing female genital mutilation/cutting.

That’s why the State Department launched #DadsAndDaughters — a campaign we hope will start a global conversation about dads, daughters, and gender equality.

We want to hear your stories of how dads and daughters buck stereotypes, change cultural attitudes, and support each other by advancing gender equality.

How to Get Involved

Post a photo, video, or a blog on social media using #DadsAndDaughters to tell us how your own daughter or father — or a daughter and father relationship — has helped you to think differently about the strength of girls and women, and the potential for fathers to advance equality.

Here are some questions that can help you share your story.

· Was there ever a time your views on gender equality changed because of something your dad/daughter said or did?

· What kind of influence has your dad/daughter had on your life?

· What’s the most important lesson you learned from your dad/daughter?

· What moment in your life were you most proud of your dad/daughter?

· What advice would you give for fathers raising their own daughters?

#DadsAndDaughters Stories We Love

Throughout the campaign, we’re highlighting some of our favorite stories of dads, daughters, and gender equality.

Mohammed and Hayat, Morocco

Hayat says: To all the fathers in the world, I would say, take care of your daughters, but don’t take care of them too much. Give them freedom and independence.

My father never told me that boys and girls are equal, he and my mother showed me by giving my brother and I the same chances and the same encouragement. Both boys and girls should go to school. Both boys and girls should be able to makesomething of themselves. Both boys and girls should be able to make something for their countries.

Sometimes I feel scared, like I feel about going to the White House in America, but my father always encourages me. He told me that when special opportunities come up in our lives, we must do it. He said I should not be scared and I should focus on the positives. I should turn scary things into nice things.

My father influenced me a lot. He taught me many important lessons, like not to be too fast in making decisions or to go on the right path or to be honest. My father signs me up for school and takes me to the youth center and helps me with my homework, but he is always reminding me that in the end, my success is up to me.

Mohammed says: When Hayat was born, I immediately had a special connection with her. She was smiling at me when she was only fifteen days old, and she’s never stopped smiling since.

The most important lesson that she’s taught me is that when she wants to do something, she can. The first time she tried swimming, I was scared and doubtful. I thought she would fall in the water and drown. My instinct was to help her, but she wanted to do it by herself. Despite my fears, I let her and she did it! I learned how brave and resolute she is. And I learned never to doubt her abilities. When she wants to do something, she can.

For me, gender equality is a basic principle. It is essential. All my kids’ education was based on that. For someone to have an open road, they must have basic equality.

I don’t have a moment of being most proud of my daughter, because I am always so proud of her. She is so smart and courageous and compassionate. She doesn’t even need me, but I’m happy we have her.

Frederick and Fredgena, Jamaica

Frederick says: From the minute she came into the world my life changed. Things I used to do like engaging on the corner of the road with friends I no longer do that, because I have a responsibility, she becomes my responsibility. I budget for her, because she is now in the picture and think more for her, she is my future.

When I see her doing childish things it brings me back to when I was her age, and I try to make sure she has the opportunity that I didn’t. She has taught me to be there for her and give her more than what I had. Sometimes I look at her the things she does, she makes some jokes, and it reminds me of my past. She amuses me. Her excellence in school warms my heart. She has become more advanced than I [was at that age]. I like that about her.

Fredgena says: He made me feel more confident, giving me the drive, encouraging me to lead and reason with others. He taught me not to talk to strangers and to be more confident, to hard work at school. I love and care for him.

Walter and Leslie, Peru

Leslie says: It’s amazing how the perspectives of a father can change radically. According to my aunts and uncles, during my dad’s youth, he showed himself as a very serious and individualistic person because he was in the military. However, after the birth of his daughters, he became a loving and protective person, committed to our future.

Every day I am proud of my father. He is undoubtedly an example of father who is not swayed by the comments of the society. He looks out for the best for us and for this reason, we are grateful for everything he did and he does since the moment that he looked into our eyes and said “I am your father. I will be with you in the good and the bad experiences.”

My dad is my hero, my shield, my best friend. He is someone who would give me the moon to help me in whatever my pursuits, who seeks all possibilities to allow his daughters meet their longed-for dreams. He is the one who is present in my triumphs and defeats, the man who will give me a big hug, a motivational pep talk, and who will always be there for me.

Walter says: Sixteen years ago God blessed me with the wonder of being a parent. My eldest daughter Leslie was born and five years later, my little Leonela. Being a father of two young girls means taking care of the most valuable treasures and love them above all else. Over the years I learned that the society should not be consumed by stereotypes and gender differences; I’ve found that women and girls can continue to surprise us.

As a family with low economic resources, we have worked hard and sacrificed our whole lives. My daughters, on many occasions, have proven to me they can be much more courageous, innovative, and resilient compared to men in dealing with problems that come our way.

Leslie is part of the first generation of an NGO called Peru Champs. In 2013, I got great news that she had received an academic scholarship at one of the best schools around the country, Innova Schools. In that moment I knew that she was starting the process of a better life. Last school year, they have informed us that she was within the best academic positions at the national level. Many opportunities began to arrive: a scholarship at a language Center, serving as the face of the NGO in the media, and her participation in the great WiSci STEAM camp a couple of months ago. Without a doubt, her success is the result of hard work.

Leonela also surprised us when last year she was admitted to the NGO Peru Champs like her sister; since then she spends her time giving the best of herself, because she also has obtained the first place in her class. I am 100% sure that wonderful opportunities await her.

In Peru, patriarchy is one of the most serious problems; unfortunately society is not aware of equality and fair development for everybody. Also the prejudices make us blind to the facts of reality: that both genders, we can achieve better things. To the parents like me: do not let yourself be carried away by this cloud of criticism. Encourage your family and contribute to a world with opportunities for everybody.

Mohamed and Fatima, Morocco

Housewife or student: these are two divergent paths for many girls around the world. For Fatima, a young woman living in Morocco, it was not impossible for her to become a housewife, given her cultural background. But with the support of her father Mohamed, she not only stayed in school but excelled in it.

“He always took me to school,” Fatima said about her father. “He was always there. He came to my awards ceremonies. That is just his mentality.”

Asked to describe a moment she was most proud of her father, Fatima points to the time she had the opportunity to travel to the United States as part of a secondary school scholarship program. Despite family pressure to say no, Mohamed trusted his daughter to be a part of the program. To him, Fatima is worth the investment.

Read more about this dad and daughter story, including Mohamed’s advice for other fathers, here.

Dads and daughters from across the Obama Administration have shared their own stories throughout the campaign.



Voices from the U.S. Department of State (2015–2017)

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Cathy Russell

Mom, movie buff, champion for women and girls. Former U.S. Ambassador-at-Large for Global Women’s Issues.