In Focus: Mothers and Daughters
March 8, 2014 1:52 PM   Subscribe

Today, March 8, is International Women's Day, a day to celebrate the social, political and economic achievements of women, and focus attention on areas still needing action. In the run-up to the event, Reuters photographers in countries around the globe took a series of portraits of women and their daughters. They asked each mother what her profession was, at what age she had finished education, and what she wanted her daughter to become when she grew up. They also asked each daughter at what age she would finish education and what she wanted to do in the future. (SLAtlantic)
posted by capricorn (11 comments total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
So many wonderful photos.

Halime stopped going to school last year because it was 10 km (6 miles) from her house and the journey was too difficult.
What seems to be such a small distance to those of us in developed countries can be insurmountable in others. I hope she gets to go back to school.
posted by arcticseal at 2:50 PM on March 8, 2014 [1 favorite]

Zhang Haijing says she wants her daughter Zhu Nuo to have a stable job, but does not mind what she does so long as she is happy. Zhu Nuo says she wants to get a doctoral degree and become a professor.

No, Zhu Nuo, no. YOUR MOTHER WANTS YOU TO BE HAPPY, she said.
posted by a fiendish thingy at 2:56 PM on March 8, 2014 [16 favorites]

I really enjoyed these. Thank you for posting them!

I have a wonderful mother with whom I, like many women, have an occasionally difficult relationship. Seeing these was a nice reminder that she, like most mothers around the world, wants what's best for me, even if we don't always agree on what that is.
posted by Mrs. Pterodactyl at 3:12 PM on March 8, 2014 [2 favorites]

I love the mom's smile in #24!

Thanks for this.
posted by Xany at 3:51 PM on March 8, 2014

My mom studied up to the sixth grade. When I came home from school, she'd have me teach her what I learned that day, and then use that to help me with homework.

I should call her. I don't know what she wanted to be when she grew up.
posted by cobain_angel at 4:52 PM on March 8, 2014 [5 favorites]

Very much enjoyed this. Thank you.
posted by effluvia at 5:02 PM on March 8, 2014

I read once that the single most important factor in the future success of a child is the education of the mother. The last photo spoke such volumes. It seemed sad to me that there was no education for the mother who has always worked the land and the daughter wants no different future. Can it possibly be the case that this is not sad?
posted by Anitanola at 5:26 PM on March 8, 2014

I loved these photos. I've been trying to get straight answers from my folks about their hopes and dreams (now that they're seniors) and it's been hard. I can't even tease the story of how Dad proposed to Mom out of them! My parents had grade 12 educations. Out of a bunch of first and second cousins, I'm the only one to have gone on to post-secondary. I hope all these girls get the guidance and funding to be what they want, and retain the persistence and determination that will see them through it.
posted by Calzephyr at 6:00 PM on March 8, 2014

When my mother was a kid, she wanted to be a home economics teacher. Then, in junior high school, they were all given an aptitude test, and the guidance counselor told her she was going to be put into a non-college-preparatory secretarial program. After all, her family couldn’t afford higher education for a girl with average grades who didn’t distinguish herself on the test.

Her sister was told that because of the test and her good math grades, she was going to go into a college-prep course and, barring any mishaps, there would be a scholarship to nursing school waiting for her.

The next four years went by, and nobody seemed to notice or care that Mom grew out of her daydreaming kid phase and was making top grades, and Aunt got woozy at the sight of blood and couldn’t stand being around sick people.

Right after graduation, Mom was offered a job as a secretary at the FBI. Grandma talked her out of taking it, convincing her she could never handle living in the big city on her own. Aunt failed 12th-grade Calculus, had to make it up in summer school, and lost her nursing scholarship. Grandma took to her bed for a week, but you’ll never convince me she didn’t fail on purpose. She can’t stand the sight of blood to this day, and it was Mom who nursed Grandma in her last illness. And she finally made it to college later in life, and became a nutrition teacher for the Cooperative Extension. I’m proud of my Mom.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 7:06 PM on March 8, 2014 [6 favorites]

Thank you so much for posting his. I have so many feelings and reactions I didn't expect I would, ranging from, "Why do so many girls want to become hair dressers?" to hoping someone helps the woman who only learned enough to read the Koran teach those girls in Islamabad more.

I am puzzled by the word slum used in some of the descriptions--is there a poverty level or some specific criteria for that? I was struck by how spotlessly clean these women with the most modest homes kept their living spaces for their families.

Makes you wonder, too, how many men dreamed of following one career and ended up doing something else entirely because of family responsibilities? I am sure it does happen, and would honestly like to hear their stories, and those of their children. But I do think that there is a different dynamic at play for men in many places in the world.

I feel (and may be completely wrong, which is why I would like to know more) that for many young men, it may be their own parents pushing them hard, encouraging them to be lawyers or doctors, etc. when they would rather pursue another path. So their challenges are quite different and have less to do with running into walls along the way because of their gender, or dialing back their career ambitions once they start a family because their children consume so much of their time and energy (or because they have been pressured into feeling like they are supposed to).

The Somalian mother and daughter made me want to cheer out loud. I had expected little if any education, and a depressing future for the daughter along those same lines. I am thrilled beyond words my expectations were not met. You go, Mom!

I am also beyond impressed at the 30 year-old woman who had a daughter at twenty and kept on with her education until she was 29 because, damn, that had to be hard!
posted by misha at 11:44 AM on March 9, 2014

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