“For Father’s Day” is a poem written by 14-year-old poet and women’s advocate Anya Thakur. She works to empower and uplift communities as founder of GirlUp Dallas, a UN Women organization, and a MetoWe partner with ArtRising, which provides arts enrichment to underprivileged communities and creates diverse programming for South and East Asian women. Hosting education, self-defense, and language and literature classes to empower rural women in Delhi, Mumbai, and Munipur, and humanitarian efforts with Myna Mahila, which empowers women in rural India through health education, her women’s advocacy promotes UN Women’s mission to ensure a fair and equitable future, and she has traveled throughout the United States and India to speak for girl’s education and empowerment.
For Father’s Day
when I look around me, I see a thousand different paths young women have taken. some are the ones expected of them, some the ones they chose, and yet others the ones they created and forged for themselves.
many are free to explore, but for others, their wings are clipped and their voices left unheard — the choice has long been made for them. a daughter should marry, raise children, and care for the household. everyone should be free to choose, but when these become expectations, they are burdens placed upon young girls and women who should be writing and dictating their own narratives. yet, their destiny is carved by strangers.
and so I thank my father. rather than clipping my wings, he raised me without a cage and encouraged me to fly wherever I desired. he allowed me to write my own story — and he pushed me towards education, so I could see the big world I have yet to explore and find the words to defend my independence and articulate my dreams, big enough to be daunting but ambitious enough to inspire. and so i listen hard, watch carefully, and write freely and boundlessly.
and the languages I have discovered bridge boundaries — English, Hindi, Spanish, Punjabi, Urdu, Tamilian, and beyond — and take on a life of their own. and they spark a willingness to do what’s difficult but beautiful, to fight hard and reach far, and to look beyond. an ache to express myself with words not yet discovered and forgotten dialects, to promote equality and self-expression.
and when I look around me, I see the possibility to uplift and empower my sisters. by giving them. a. choice.