When I was growing up in Poland, during the communist era, International Women’s Day was a big deal. While not a public holiday, it was always celebrated at school and at work. As girls in primary school, every year we were given a single flower.
Of course, back then, I didn’t give the meaning behind the day a second thought.
I was quite surprised, however, that in Australia, March 8 came and went and nobody mentioned anything about Women’s Day. No flowers, no celebrations.
As I entered the workforce in the 1990s, International Women’s Day began to slowly infiltrate Australian society’s consciousness and I noticed more and more events organised every year to celebrate and acknowledge women.
Now, in our increasingly connected world, and maybe particularly because I work in social media, International Women’s Day seems to be almost as big a deal in Western society as it was back in Poland.
To be honest, in the past, I had taken the role women play in our world for granted, or at least the perceived equality and value of women in our culture. Again, it may be that growing up in a fairly egalitarian, as far as gender was concerned, society, I assumed that, of course, women are valued and equal.
As I became a mother and as I woke up to my own circumstances, I also began waking up to what is almost a nightmarish oppression of women in our “egalitarian” society. We give lip service to gender equality and, as career women, we may even believe it, but as soon as we pause to have babies, our value seems to diminish to being “just mothers”.
It seems to me that we are our own worst enemies. It would be easy to blame it on “society”, but society is more than half female. We ourselves put extremely low value on the qualities we have as women, the qualities that distinguish us from men and the work that women do. We have worked so hard to make the world believe that we are as good as men, that we only think ourselves successful when we are LIKE men.
Men and women are not the same. We are different. We are complementary. We see the world differently. Our differences are what we should value, not our similarities. Women do not need to change their innate natures to feel valuable and successful.
We need to value who we are – whether we are mothers, crafters, artists, film makers or business executives. Before we are any of those, we are human. I’d like to live in a world where women can be themselves and still be valued by society, no matter what role they choose to take in it.
It saddens me to see how many women are still desperate to “get a man”. We live in a culture, where a woman still does not seem to be complete without a man.
At a birthday celebration a couple of years ago, I was part of a conversation with a group of women in their thirties about how badly men treated some other women they knew. We talked about cheating, lying, verbal and emotional abuse. We agreed that the only reason this happened is that the women allowed it. The women were so “desperate” that they would do anything and put up with anything just to “get and keep a man”. And of course, the men thought that it was acceptable behaviour, too.
And I know that I was like that, too. I sacrificed my self-respect, my values, my intuition, just to be with someone.
I am now seeing how things really are and I am imagining how things could be. I am seeing the value and power of women in our society. There is a revolution building. I love this article by Tara Mohr, that shows just how powerful women can be.
I want to leave you with this inspirational video from TEDxWomen about the power of connection, the power of women and the emerging consciousness of the interdependence of our world.
What do you think? Do you think women value themselves enough? What can you do today to value yourself just a tiny bit more?