I have been thinking quite a lot lately about equal rights for women.

I think anyone who believes that women should not have equal opportunities to men is living in the Dark Ages.

As the father of three daughters, I am fiercely protective of my girls' right to follow their dreams, no matter what those dreams are.

I always tell them that they are as good as anyone else and should never let anyone put them down or discriminate against them because they are female.


What got me thinking about this was an opinion piece in our Talking Point section earlier this week from Jane Muldowney, a senior structural engineer from Napier. She asked why Year 9 students at girls' schools have sewing as a compulsory subject and also said it bugged her there was a lack of STEM (science, technology, maths and engineering) subjects in some girls' schools.

Her article provoked a strong response from Geraldine Travers, principal of Hastings Girls' High School, who chided Jane Muldowney for her "hasty generalisation regarding the curriculum at girls' schools".

However, I think there is no question that both women believe women should have the same opportunities as men.

It is an interesting debate because girls should be able to pursue the subjects they want to at school. A good example of what women can achieve is Theresa Gattung, who was guest speaker at a Napier City Council's Business Breakfast yesterday (see page 5).

The former chief executive and managing director of Telecom New Zealand, who was a co-founder of My Food Bag, spoke about her life and career. The thing about Ms Gattung is that she is someone who well and truly shattered any glass ceiling on her way to the top. She is an inspiration to many.

On a similar theme, our columnist Marcus Agnew writes on page 16 that he would like to erase negative perceptions that still pervade over girls going "hard" in sport and training hard in the gym to develop strength and power.

All these views point to the fact that, even in our modern world, we need to fight for our daughters' right to equality with men in whatever they do.