Over the weekend I came across many articles regarding women and women’s issues which were really eye-opening for me. And so, what with it being International Women’s Day tomorrow, here I am, sharing some of what I learned ‘pon my blog.
My favourite of the lot was a feature by Stylist magazine, in which they interviewed 30 women from all over the world who are 30 years old and asked them a few questions among which was – if where they are at now in life is where they thought they would be when closing in on this milestone age. And many said no. And I thought, who can’t relate to that? How many of our situations in the multiple facets of our lives at this moment is the culmination of everything going precisely according to our plans? Very, very few, if any.
What I appreciated most about this article was that it is the true reflection of the majority of women today. These are the kinds of women that we can relate to and identify with. Not the social media version of women’s lives who outwardly seem so impeccably neat and conveniently perfect. The Gucci-wearing-everyday brunching-weekend-travelling lives. I loved their honesty in the article, sharing immensely personal things with the world, with their heads held high.
So many women today in 2016 are not in possession of the freedoms you and I have in our respective countries. Things we take for granted, like the fact that we are women. In India, baby girls are killed every day, some even while in the womb, due to the widespread belief by some that girls are a burden, because when a woman gets married her family have to pay, often massive amounts in dowry, to the prospective groom’s parents, this is according to Time Magazine and you can read the full article here. Then, as at February of this year, there have been 200 million (just think about that for a second, TWO HUNDRED MILLION) girls and women who are still alive today who’ve undergone genital mutilation. I would like to point out here that this is a despicable archaic cultural practice and NOT an Islamic one as many Western media channels would have the world believe.
In many households women are the sole breadwinners, in many more they are single parents trying to balance work, raising kids on their own and trying to have some kind of social life as well. Women are still being paid less than male counterparts for the same job positions even with equal or better qualifications. And women still spend more hours doing unpaid work, i.e. grocery shopping, doing the dishes, laundry and general household chores, etc. than men do.
In the Stylist article, Sandra De La Cruz, from Lima, Peru said her biggest fear is safety. ”Women cannot walk the street for fear of being killed or raped – the product of patriarchy in my country.” And this fear is something I know South African women can relate to as well, especially at night. Florence Namaru from Yambio, South Sudan, said her greatest challenge is ”living in a society where men are regarded more highly than women. If a woman is educated, has a good job and is able to provide, she is seen as ‘too independent’.”
Yes, how dare we have those things, how dare we provide or get educated. The nerve.
In one of my ‘Where to go’ posts I linked to an interview with author Jacky Fleming who wrote the newly released, The Trouble with Women, which came about when she began researching in an attempt to find historical female geniuses (how many female geniuses vs male geniuses can you count off-the-cuff right now?) she was amazed to find that there were so many remarkable women and yet she’d never heard of them while in school. ”By not learning about centuries of women’s achievements in school, female inferiority is naturalised into our daily lives. Girls learn that they’re extras in someone more important’s story, and boys learn that women haven’t done anything, and don’t merit their respect,” says Fleming. You can read the full interview with Caroline O’Donoghue on The Pool here.
But no matter how inspiring an article is or informative and educational a book may be on the plight and condition of women’s issues worldwide, what I think they accentuate most of all is the amount of work still to do. As far as we have come, there is even farther to go.
So let’s use this day to make a decision to be more mindful of all the other women around us. To try our best to remember that every women, no matter how fortunate or disadvantaged, is a woman deserving of our respect and support. That no matter how different we may look or speak, how we live our lives, what we believe in or whether we choose to work or be home-makers, we all face the same unified struggles, we ask ourselves the same questions, we all have 54785985 thoughts circulating our brain (all day!), we feel the same pain of heartbreak and the same joy in loving a family.
Women make the world a softer place, we make it kinder, more nurtured and loved, and prettier. I wish that instead of the futile negativity many women direct to other women, we’d share more of the special, transcendental love we’re blessed with the capability of giving with them, instead.
It might not solve all our problems but it will make us feel less alone.
Have a happy Women’s Day!