March 8th is International Women’s Day, and this year’s campaign encourages us to “Press For Progress”. I’ve never labelled myself a feminist. I’m not much into the labels we impose on women. They are just another tool used to diminish and if there’s one thing I’ve learned maturing as a woman is that none of us are one-dimensional. But if being a feminist means valuing demonstrable decency to all beings and supporting equal access to fundamental freedoms and privileges, then perhaps it must be a part of my multi-dimensional makeup. But truly, I simply value rights for all, and I have always just felt women are forces to be reckoned with and oppressing their, or anyone else’s, power is simply not at all okay, at all wise, at all for the greater good of society.
Women are the true architects of society
Being a Mother to both genders comes with great responsibility, I feel. I desire for my daughter to believe her potential to succeed is limitless, and my sons to be raised to never question this possibility. I will do my best, alongside a man who holds women to the highest regard, to raise my babes to see there is no boundary to a woman’s worth and greatness, and even more so that respect and privilege are not virtues specific to one gender. That the contributions of women and men are equally significant and should be honoured the same. That worth, value and achievement are not characteristics of one gender.
It starts at home, and I have never been more aware of the parental power we possess to lessen the impact that existing stereotypes and policies can have on our parental wishes and our children’s outcomes. I refuse to accept that the potential of women, of the next generation of women worldwide, may continue to be impeded upon. I know women’s rights have come a long way – this year alone has seen big strides in the push to gender parity. But I also know there is still work to do, and the momentum needs to be maintained and maximized. Injustice toward any woman based on her anatomy is an injustice to all of us.
Being someone who loves a challenge, and aligning actions with desires, I know I can’t change the world overnight, but the most significant thing we do have control over and can do as parents is raise our four children to know change always starts with us.
#PressForProgress is a call to action, and in this family, it will mean:
- Continuing to support programs (both local & international) that fight for female inclusivity, access to education, social and economic advancement (like WE.org), and those breaking the silence and prevalence of violence towards women
- Sharing stories, films and books that celebrate the social, economic and political achievements of women and girls from our past, present and future (our current faves HERE) [*affiliate link*]
- Being aware of how we speak of female possibility around our dinner table, and removing stereotyping from our parenting discourse
- Modelling to them the appropriate way to treat a woman in our marriage and relationship, but also that respect for men is equally important
- Teaching our sons and daughter that intelligence has no boundaries
- Being aware of how we speak of women in the presence of our children, for they are our greatest imitators
- Discussing how speaking up, particularly in matters of injustice, or where we or someone we love is being disrespected, does not make us a negative, bad or disobedient person, but rather a self-respecting, and empathetic one
- Teaching our kids that no act is ever too small to make an impact, and small changes lead to great outcomes
- That the support and encouragement of boys and men for fundamental rights of girls and women is imperative; one cannot be achieved without the other
- Age-appropriate conversations about consent, respect for our bodies and those of others
- For my daughter, I want her to see that as women, we rise by lifting other women up, not tearing them down (gossip + girl-shaming free zone over here!). Empowering other women is one of the greatest things we can do to make a change for all of womankind. I want to show her how to see women as a comrade, not a competitor. Not easy, but I’m committed.
What are you doing in your family to #PressForProgress this year?
Before I sign off, I wanted to share some of my favourite inspirational quotes well-suited for International Women’s Day and beyond:
- Here’s to strong women, may we know them, may we be them, may we raise them [and raise our sons and celebrate men who value and respect them!] – Unknown
2. I am Woman Phenomenally, Phenomenal Woman that’s me – Maya Angelou
3. We cannot all succeed when half of us are held back – Malala Yousafzai
4. The education and empowerment of women throughout the world cannot fail to result in a more caring, tolerant, just and peaceful life for all – Aung San Suu Kyi
5. Beauty is about being comfortable in your own skin. It’s about knowing and accepting who you are – Ellen DeGeneres
6. Girls should never be afraid to be smart – Emma Watson
7. In the future, there will be no female leaders. There will just be leaders – Sheryl Sandberg
8. I am not free while any woman is unfree, even when her shackles are very different from my own – Audre Lorde
9. Each time a woman stands up for herself, without knowing it, without claiming it possibly, she stands up for all women – Maya Angelou
10. It takes years as a woman to unlearn what you have been “sorry” for. It takes years to find your voice and seize your real estate – Amy Poelhr
Cheers to the phenomenal women of our past, present and future, and to the men who value and celebrate their greatness alongside us!