Tuesday, 8 March 2011

Life: What is International Women's Day (and month) about?

Three ladies I admire: (top left) Florence Welch, (centre) Kerry Washington and (top right) Aaliyah

I can understand why people (mainly men) question the validity of IWD and IWM. After all, the original reason why it was formed no longer applies, does it - it's been YEARS since women got the right to vote and pay is getting more equal than ever, right? Well, not entirely. In some parts of the Middle East, voting is still restricted for women, and let's not pretend that all women can vote under oppressive regimes all around the world, even if they are legitimately entitled to do so. As for salaries, females are still getting paid on average 17% less of a man's wage.

But here's where I'm going to be somewhat controversial. In the 21st century and certainly in the Western world, men cannot be fully blamed for the position women find themselves in now. Take, for example, pay. A woman in a well-to-do firm in the UK or US, for example, may be unsatisfied with the salary she has been given, but her initial negotiation skills did play a part in getting her there. (As a digression, this is where mentorship may have helped. Women who've been there before could offer advice on how to avoid the pitfalls of paying oneself less than one's worth.)

Men seem to have an innate ability to be audacious in their pay requests. I think women could do worse than taking that particular leaf out of their male counterpart's book. For all the rhetoric about women being emotional, I would argue we're generally the more 'realistic' and 'down to earth' of the two sexes - to our downfall. We tend to look at our skills and gifts in a much more modest manner, as in, how we can affect our family and community positively - and that's okay, but we could do much more. Men, I would say, take their ideas and make them a reality - regardless of their skillset - as they perceive that they can hire what they need.

What I'm arguing is that I believe each woman has a responsibility to think as big as she can and maximise the gifts she has within her. Having a belief in the gifts that you were born with are not in vain and are for a great purpose - even if you're not sure of what it is yet.

I admit I've been guilty of undervaluing my skillset, but, for a little while now I've been attempting to explore and maximise them - fighting for my dreams as Paulo Coelho would say - and with the help of others and for others, I want to live as fulfilled a life as possible.

To be honest, IWD hasn't meant too much to me till this year, it's always been for someone else to think about! 

I've never explored its implications on a personal level. Frankly speaking, it's only been in the last few years I've considered my place as a mere human (and spiritual) being - if I had earlier, it may have saved some heartache and silliness - much less my impact on Earth as a woman, because in the 21st century, we're taught to block out those kind of differences in the name of equality. And that type of thinking is something I regret, but can't undo, but moving forward, I've changed - woo hoo!

So, ladies, if you've been like me, I would ask you to think about what IWD and IWM means to you personally. 

If you were to - God forbid - pass away today, how would you want to be remembered?

What legacy would you want to leave behind?

What do you love to do that you want to do till you die - and see it grow and grow before you can hand the baton to someone else?

If your dream feels too big, is there someone you can ask for help? A mentor? A friend of a friend? Could you start small and be persistent in cultivating the dream till it blooms?

And men: how do you see the women around you? Have you played your part in the lives of the 'fairer sex' in a positive way? If so, good! If not, why not? Ask yourself! We're all in each other's lives for a reason.

IWD and IWM give men and women the opportunity to think about their roles in society - and whether they are happy with those roles - and about where they've been, where they are and where they're going.

Every man and woman is responsible for the life they live because of the little decisions they make day to day - and these decisions reinforce who you are and who you will become.

So, ask yourself if you're going in the right direction - and ask for help doing it!

Happy International Women's Day.

I'm in the UK, so I have some pancakes to flip!

Till next time,


For info on IWD, click here 

And let me know what your views are about International Women's Day (and Month)