March 8th, International Women’s Day. The day of the year that we reflect on and celebrate women around the world. I love International Women’s Day. I love learning and raising awareness about issues facing women right now. I live in Canada, I have every opportunity available to me. And yet, I don’t see my female face equally represented in governing politics and in high levels of business. Women are getting there, but the challenges are still present. I still see women who choose to stay home to care for their children undervalued in our society. “Women’s work” is still underpaid and undervalued. There is still so much work to be done.
Last year, I shared 5 ways to celebrate International Women’s Day with your children. I truly believe that discussing the issues that women face around the world with our children can only benefit our children and our world. This year things in our house are shifting. I cannot help but notice how my little girl is growing up. As my eldest daughter reaches her 10th birthday this summer, she is inching ever closer to being a young woman.
I see her beginning to deal with the issues that arise for young women. At times she is having to decide if she wants to stand in the schoolyard and chat with the girls at recess or run around play a game. The concepts of “gossip” and “cliques” are raising their ugly heads. Social pressures to please others are creeping into the stories she tells me at the end of the day. The girls are starting to discuss the concept of “beauty”.
Now, I know that she is just at the very beginning of the journey toward becoming a woman. I remember those days. I remember wanting to play baseball in the field…but somehow being drawn to chatting with the girls. What was my true desire? I don’t know.
What I have learned from being a mom for 9, almost 10 years, is that we have time, lots of time. Yes, it does seem some days that time is flying by…but it really isn’t. If we slow down, press pause on life, we have lots of time. Every conversation I have with my daughter is an opportunity to help her navigate this journey. Often times simply listening is all she needs. Sometimes she is willing to hear my opinion. While I know that I cannot make decisions for my girl…lord knows my mother couldn’t have told me what to do…I can listen. I can listen and in the quiet moments, I can share my stories with my daughter. I can share the stories of other women. I can help my daughter to know that what she is feeling is universal…she’s not alone. Women all around the world face gossip, social pressures, struggle with beauty issues, feel the pressure to conform…even when they want to be individuals. Maybe sharing the stories of how other young women cope and excel will help her in the moments when she is making her own personal choices. That is my hope.
So, on this International Women’s Day I am thankful for all the strong women that are part of our lives. My sister, my sisters-in-law, my mother-in-law, my step-mother, my girlfriends, my daughter’s teachers, my daughter’s principal, my local politician, etc, etc. I am thankful for all the strong women who have come before us that we knew and those we never knew. I am thankful for all the strong women we don’t know, but their work is having an impact on our daily lives. I am thankful for all the young girls who will one day be strong women, who will lead and who will follow. I am thankful for a day that gives us the opportunity to celebrate, reflect, learn, grow, listen, see, understand, become aware.