When we nurture female talents, we create a world of possibilities instead of limits.
By Dulce Zamora
My 9-year-old daughter, Jasmine, sewed a dress, matching purse and hairpiece. She happily modeled them in and out of the house. She layered the dress with a graduated blue jacket that she sewed a couple of years ago.
Jasmine showed her first interest in sewing after a play date with a cousin in 2015. They had full access to my 70-year-old aunt’s sewing kit, which contained several scraps of fabric.
Jasmine enjoyed stitching together the scraps so much that she asked for sewing lessons for her 6th birthday. She did not want to do it by herself, however, so I enrolled both my girls in an excellent little sewing school (The Sewing Room) in Alameda, California.
Once a week, they attended class for two hours — at first making simple bags, scarves, and stuffed animals. Then, when the Christmas season neared, they stepped up the level of their projects to make gifts for family. The first year, they made aprons, oven mitts, mittens, and a fleece cape. The next year, they were able to make clothing for family members and for themselves.
Some of their creations have won awards at the Alameda County Fair in 2016, 2017, and 2018. Here are some of the items they have made:
After my mother saw my girls’ creations, she shared that my grandmother (Ima) was a seamstress and a successful business woman in the Philippines. Business was so good that she had 10 seamstresses working for her to meet demand.
After she got pregnant, her husband (my grandfather) convinced her to give up her business so she could stay home to care for their children. (They ended up having 9 kids.) My grandfather loved her so much that he did not want her to work. He wanted to be able to provide for her and for the children.
When World War II came around and the Japanese took control of the Philippines, Ima began selling rice to the Japanese. By all accounts, she was a shrewd businesswoman who could adapt to any situation. However, due to safety concerns (it was the war and she was female), she was convinced to give up her work again.
I love that story because I can see Ima’s spirit in my girls. They are creative and resilient, and have a somewhat-improved avenue to pursue their careers and talents. I say ‘somewhat’ because women can now work outside the home, but the challenges remain. There is still a significant wage gap between women and men. Plus, most leadership positions are still occupied by men.
I think of this as I ponder my girls’ future: Will their opportunities and pay be on par with men when it comes to their careers? Will they have support available if they decide to have children? Will they lose money, status, and career momentum for taking time off to take care of the family? I would like to keep the conversation alive. We will all benefit from a world where female gifts shine, even as we nurture our future talents.