By Leigh Morrow
The Dalai Lama has declared, “The world will be saved by the western woman.” I think he is right, especially if midlife women are enlisted.
A new wave is forming on the horizon, and the population of midlife women is about to crest. More women are in their middle years than ever before in history. In the next fifteen years, and that’s not a long period of time, our demographic will hit historical peaks—midlife women will comprise over half the female population. This growing demographic will allow midlife women a new opportunity, if they act, to be radical game-changers in the second half of their lives. To do our best work now, we need to use this upsurge to our advantage. Our real power is in our new numbers.
These large and formidable numbers of midlife women are voting for how we want the world to be every time we push a shopping cart down the grocery-store aisle, or go online to shop. This is profound economic power. As the chief consumer of our households, we are the ones buying, using and being mavens on everything from books to balsamic vinegar, and our endorsements can be invaluable for every business’s bottom line. We can cause corporations to sink or swim depending on whether their practices and products align with our values.
Just look at the success of the “Grab Your Wallet” boycott campaign. Shannon Coulter had never been a political activist until now, and she came upon it late night shopping online. She is the woman behind “Grab Your Wallet”, which encourages shoppers, mostly women by the way, to stay away from Trump-branded goods—Ivanka’s fashions and jewelry, Donald’s golf courses and wineries. The campaign hit a high note this month with major chains, including Neiman Marcus, Belk and big Nordstrom, dropping Trump merchandise, citing falling sales not politics, but the effect was the same.
Coulter exemplifies the new possibilities that social media present for ordinary consumers to catapult an idea for activism. Coulter admits being a consumer activist is a new role for her.
“Like many University students, I was more politically active then, but that part of my life has been really dormant my entire adult years”, she admits. Coulter, like most of us, has been a very straight-ahead career girl for the last several decades, but now she says it feels as if that has changed.
Our sudden surge of activism over suggested reforms on woman’s issues, like reproductive rights, has woken us up from a deep sleep. It is time to take action. Midlife women of the western world have had enormous privileges. We have been educated, allowed religious and sexual freedom, enjoyed equality in the workforce and multiple career options. Our current midlife workforce includes CEOs of public and private corporations, politicians and leaders of state, and a high percentage of entrepreneurs.
We know how to “make it happen” and who to call when a door won’t budge. Collectively we can accomplish much. Tackling social issues such as poverty or illiteracy, or simply organizing a community garden, we know that as a unified group we can make a definite difference for the next generation and help to heal the planet.
Imagine if all midlife women only bought sustainable, socially conscious products that improved our lives without polluting, demanding brands that are affordable. We would refuse to purchase overpriced products and fraudulently “green washed” ideas and services. Combine this opportunity with our innate ability to nurture and care for others, and we are poised as the natural stewards of the Earth, its inhabitants and its ecology. Who, but women, are best to mother this troubled Earth? We western midlife women, with our skills, resources, and new numbers, are being offered a rare chance to nurse this planet, and its people, back to health. We have an obligation to use this watershed moment wisely.
We are finally here in numbers in the ways that seventies pop icon Helen Reddy was predicting. So let’s not waste this opportunity. It is time to act. This statistical bump will end by 2031, and our daughters and their daughters will not have the same numerical advantage ever again. Our decisions, from what we buy to whom we vote for, and the causes we stand behind, have the power to radically shift society’s image of us. The wise women of midlife will awake and passionately play out their remaining years in highly valued roles as stewards of our Earth, sage scouts to the future. They will be the heroines for their daughters and their daughters’ daughters. Those who are brave enough to reject the idea that their later chapters are in some way diminished in value will create a new powerful midlife. It can be a sacred time that will change the very concept of midlife for others who follow, like the effect the liberating sixties had on our own lives.
Retreating is not on the list of possibilities.
“I feel a seriousness of purpose that I’ve never felt before in my life,” Coulter said. I feel that too.
Leigh Morrow, co-author of “Just Push Play” (www.jppmidlife.com) is a Vancouver writer who operates Casa Mihale, a vacation rental in the quaint ocean-front community of San Agustinillo, Mexico. Her house can be viewed and rented at www.gosanagustinillo.com