After scrolling through my social media feeds this morning and realising it was International Women’s Day, I started to wonder what it means to me. I shift between being proud and wanting to celebrate womanhood on a day like today, to wondering what all the fuss is about – does highlighting our inequality actually benefit us? or should we just shut up and get on with being the best we can be? And can we just stop with the motivational photo quotes?
I think the whole women thing it falls into two camps:
- The personal perspective – women as individuals
- The womanhood perspective – highlight women’s issues for the betterment of us all
I’ll take the second one first 🙂 This is about helping others who are unable to help themselves, raising awareness of issues that can be appalling and heinous to those of us living in comparable luxury. By this I mean things like female genital mutilation (FGM), domestic abuse (of the physical and emotional kind), the right to hold the same position as men, and I suppose it also includes the gender pay gap and women’s body image issues but they’re much less appalling than the serious suffering some women experience.
These issues should certainly be brought to life, and I listened to a heart-breaking conversation about FGM on Radio 2 yesterday with an incredibly brave woman who is doing just that – bringing to life and raising awareness of her own experience, to the betterment of other women. Then there are other so-called women’s issues. I read an article recently about a woman who works full-time in oil and gas as an engineer who is a mother of two. I thought it was ironic that she felt by being on the front of a newspaper in a hard hat with caption that said something like ‘yes I can be a mother and an engineer’ she was kind of missing the point. That’s not new. Women have been working and mothering for years. My mum did it, my granny did it, and probably her mum too. The only difference being they probably were wearing a headscarf and curlers instead of a hard hat. I thought, big deal. That’s not to belittle the role of a parent, and I take my hat off to anyone (male or female) who works and parents at the same time. It’s not easy, and you can be consumed by the hamster-wheel of feeling you always have to prove something – I can do it all! But you don’t have to conform to what society says you should be able to do as a woman.
Which brings me on to point one and my personal perspective. What kind of woman am I? This was what really got me thinking today, and here’s what I came up with:
- I’m a woman who runs her own business with passion
- I’m a woman who enjoys a 50/50 relationship with her partner
- I’m a woman who places importance on a small number of close friendships where I can laugh, cry, or wear no make-up even with a spotty face
- I’m a woman who continues to become more comfortable with herself and care less abut what people think
- I’m a woman who is not afraid of growing older
- I’m an emotional, sensitive woman, which is something worth celebrating
- I’m a woman who feels the fear, and does it anyway
- I’m a woman who believes that to enjoy a healthy life we should focus on wellbeing – managing eating, exercise, stress, sleep and relationships (always a work in progress)
- I’m a woman who is gradually creating a simpler life – less stuff, more experiences
- I’m a woman who believes in trying to not leave the planet in a worse state than I found it
I could probably go on but ten seems like a nice round number.
What does it mean to you to be a woman?
Happy international women’s day 🙂