To my daughter,
Being a dad is the greatest joy of my life. I love watching you grow, seeing you learn more about the world, develop opinions on topics I didn’t even know you knew about, and express your ambitions for your future.
When you become a parent, the things you think are important change overnight. I have a really simple wish: that you and your brother will grow up happy and safe, with the opportunity to do whatever you desire. I think that’s what all parents want for their kids.
But watching you grow up has also been a powerful reminder to me of the challenges women and girls of all generations face. Society still forces girls into such narrow gender stereotypes and I want you to know that you can be anything you set your mind to.
That’s why we celebrate International Women’s Day – to honour all the achievements women have made and to reflect on the steps we still need to take to secure equality. I’ve been lucky to be surrounded by brilliant women my entire life. One of the biggest influences on me was my mum – your grandma. She worked as a nurse and loved caring for people. But she was also very sick for a lot of her life.AsaboyandayoungmanIspentalotoftime in hospital with her. She was tough and thought about others more than she did herself. Even when she was very ill, whenever I asked her, ‘How are you, Mum?’ she’d say, ‘Don’t worry about me: how are you?’ I wish you’d had the chance to get to know her.
I know you don’t really understand my job – it always makes me and your mum laugh when you ask me, ‘Why are you always talking on the TV?’ The simplest way of explaining it is that I’m asking people to give me a chance to run the country. One of the main reasons I want to do that is because I want to make the world a better place in the future for your generation.
While I hope that coronavirus is merely a sideshow in the storybook of your childhood memories, the reality is that this pandemic will have long-lasting effects. Covid-19 has thrived on how unequal our society is, and many women have experienced that.
Throughout the pandemic, both Mum and I have been working, but many mums – many more than dads – have found that they’ve needed to quit their jobs as it’s been impossible to balance looking after kids and working.
Still today, women earn less than men. Before the pandemic, women were earning 83p for every £1 men were paid. We don’t know how much worse that is now because the Government has stopped making companies report how much they pay men and women. There are many reasons why this pay gap exists but, often, women find that their income is affected after they have children.
It means everything to me that I have a loving family of my own. That’s why it makes me angry that so many women are having to choose between their career and having children. Dads don’t have to make that choice, so why should mums? This is just one of the many challenges that women face that I don’t want your generation to have to face as well.
You’re now getting to the age where you are starting to question how the world works. Sometimes, I don’t have easy answers to those questions – particularly when they are about things that seem unfair or wrong. The truth is that there is still so much more to do.
And when I am thinking about what sort of Prime Minister I want to be, it is you and your generation I draw inspiration from – making sure you have the hope, the security and the opportunities that you deserve. That’s why I have said I want Britain to be the best place to grow up in and the best place to grow old in.
I cannot wait to see you grow. Like everyone else, you will make mistakes. You will have to challenge how you see the world. You will fall over at times. But – no matter how tough it seems – you will get back up again. You will learn. You will be stronger for your experiences. And I will be there. Proud of you. And excited for your future.