The time for change has come.
It’s International Women’s Day 2019 and I’m reflecting on the sharp, opinionated, focussed, brave, tenacious, intellectual, driven, compassionate and hardworking women that have played significant roles in my life. Let’s hear it for all the strong women.
May we know, love and respect them.
May we help raise them.
And most importantly, may we be them.
In my immediate circle of closest friends and family there are women who have given service professionally in a breadth of capacities. Many of them have used employment or entrepreneurship as a means of shining their light into the world. Just within my closest circles there have been teachers, doctors, business women, nurses, flight managers, sales women, PR strategists, should-be comedians, public servants, academics and even a barrister. They have led by example.
On many occasions these women have been required to fight or work harder for promotions and even equal treatment and pay. And some have done that and exceeded all expectations while tottering on high-heels and dressing in professional attire. And others have managed this while juggling familial responsibilities, competing interests, child rearing, motherly and caring responsibilities.
Throughout the course of their lives they’ve also managed to maintain their own interests. I’ve been close with many people who have exceeded in the arts, musicians, those who have run ultramarathons, fundraised for causes close to their hearts and maintained an enthusiasm in terms of community spirit. Many have volunteered their time, skills, expertise and woman power for the greater good in not for profits, churches, kindergartens, school, the arts and in hospitals. Plenty of amazing feats have been achieved with those less fortunate.
I’m proud of these women, these mums, these friends, these sisters, these daughters and these peers. They deserve to be acknowledged and respected for all of their good deeds, hard work, nurturing and loving care, because both through paid and unpaid labour they are making an enormous contribution both to the lives of individuals, families and communities as well as society more broadly.
Since forever, women haven’t been treated as equals. In fact, women have had to command respect and equality. But they have done so through their words, actions and service, and then some.
I was genuinely hoping that by 2019 we’d have moved past the need for an ‘International Men’s Day’ argument but for those who still live in the bygone era let’s get this clear. Celebrating women is never about excluding men. On the contrary it’s the extension of an invitation to them to recognise our deeds and contributions against myriad obstacles.
It’s also a call to each and every one of us to deliver equality, to fight sexism and discrimination, to not tolerate violence or put downs and to never allow others to be made to feel unsafe (be it in the home, workplace or anywhere else). Men would do well to respect those that defend them in courts, teach their children, deliver their babies, manage their flights and may one day change their catheter.
Women all over have risen against all manner of challenges and obstacles. And in many ways, it’s time our men did too. I hope the days ahead bring change, acceptance, tolerance, security and gender equality for all of us. Only when we can finally put the petty arguments to rest can we genuinely make room for the real work and heavy lifting.
As a society we need to ensure all women are safe in their homes, in their workplaces and on our streets at all times. We deserve it and the time for change is now.