This coming weekend, we celebrate International Women’s Day (IWD) #EachforEqual. A global celebration of the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women, and an opportunity to accelerate women’s equality all over the world. It’s also a time to reflect on our own journeys as women - are we doing what we love, living like we want to, finding fulfilment in most that we do, making a difference and giving opportunities to others, acting towards others as we’d like to be treated ourselves?
I’ve found myself increasingly drawn to women’s issues and supporting other women and their endeavours. Is it age, a pull to be a role model to my own daughters, or just the very simple pleasure of giving back? It appears that volunteering is yet another way to boost our health and wellbeing, with feel-good endorphins flying both ways between volunteers and recipients. So maybe that’s it, another way to feel good.
Arguably, life for most women living in the Western World is approaching equality in 2020. There are obviously areas for improvement (equal opportunities and pay, equal division of household chores and child rearing etc), but with households increasingly needing both partners working, a certain equality (whatever that means for couples and families), has needed to be realised.
Most of the “firsts” have now been achieved, paving the way for the next wave or generation of women, and making it easier for them. Remember the intensely gendered public reaction to Julia Gillard, the first female Prime Minister for Australia, compared to the (relatively) non-gendered reaction to Jacinda Ardern, NZ’s third female Prime Minister?
Another woman who broke a few “firsts” is Margaret Atwood - a prolific poet and author who I had the pleasure of listening to a few weeks ago. Listening to Margaret talk about her new book, and her hopes for women, US politics and environmental change, was fascinating. She had some powerful messages about the ability of women to agitate for change, and the importance of youth, adults and older people working together to create change. She took great pains to explain (as the realist she is), the concept that “anything can happen anywhere, given the right circumstances.”
This IWD, I’m going to take a moment to appreciate the women that have gone before me, making it easier for me to be a working Mum, own my own business, define my own working hours, and decide my own work-life balance, that works for me and my family. It’s important to keep acknowledging and being grateful for those who have gone before us. If we don’t “anything can happen anywhere”.