By Chancellor Agard
Updated August 04, 2016 at 02:50 PM EDT
Jacquelyn Martin/AP

President Barack Obama celebrated his 55th birthday Thursday by penning a moving and insightful essay on feminism.

Published in Glamour‘s September issue, the outgoing president opened up about raising his two daughters Sasha and Malia with First Lady Michelle Obama and the need for men to fight sexism. He begins the essay by reflecting on how much progress has been made in the fight for gender equality during his lifetime, but also acknowledges there’s more work to be done.

“In fact, the most important change may be the toughest of all — and that’s changing ourselves,” he wrote.

Addressing gender stereotypes, Obama reflected on his time in the Chicago state legislature and admitted that the First Lady shouldered most of the childcare responsibility during that time. “The burden disproportionately and unfairly fell on Michelle,” he said.

Watching his wife juggle the responsibilities of family and work and raising two daughters definitely shaped his views on gender inequality. “When you’re the father of two daughters, you become even more aware of how gender stereotypes pervade our society. You see the subtle and not-so-subtle social cues transmitted through culture. You feel the enormous pressure girls are under to look and behave and even think a certain way,” he continued.

The President and the First Lady believe it’s important to empower their daughters to speak up against double standards and that starts by leading by example. “And yes, it’s important that their dad is a feminist, because now that’s what they expect of all men,” he wrote.

He concluded his essay by calling on men to become more active in combatting the existing sexist structures. “It is absolutely men’s responsibility to fight sexism too,” he said. “And I want them to help do their part to ensure that America is a place where every single child can make of her life what she will. That’s what twenty-first century feminism is about: the idea that when everybody is equal, we are all more free.”

Read the entire essay here.

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