By Jane Bauer
“The story of women’s struggle for equality belongs to no single feminist nor to any one organization but to the collective efforts of all who care about human rights.”
I am grateful to the generation of women that came before me and told me that I could be anything. Yet, for me, this also translated into the idea that I had to do everything. While I wanted a career I also wanted to be the kind of mother who drives the kids to tennis lessons and picks them up from school. The world I was raised in didn’t make it seem very possible to have both, and career was definitely considered better and more respect-worthy than becoming a housewife.
The world today is different. Being able to work remotely and have flexible hours has made it easier than ever for women to have a work/life balance. Reproductive choice – access to birth control and pregnancy termination – has also made it easier for women to choose what their future will look like.
Every International Women’s Day we celebrate the women who are making strides ahead. We raise them up on pedestals as examples of what is possible. We applaud our gender and marvel at how far we have come. Those who have peeked over the glass ceiling give speeches on how they hope to inspire girls to strive to the top of whichever field they choose.
But if the standard we hold for success is that every woman become a doctor, CEO or climate change activist we will always fall short of our goal.
Rather than look at the millions of women who spend their days caring for their family as failed potential, we could elevate our value of the tasks that occupy them. What if we elevated the value we put on what is termed ‘women’s work’?
What if we shifted our expectations of what it means to be a feminist to be more inclusive to those who haven’t had access to academic schooling on gender theory or the chance to get an MBA?
This IWD let us celebrate the women who are doing laundry in rivers, carpooling their kids to hockey, cooking dinner while staying on budget, helping with science class volcanos and mediating tantrums from toddlers.
Because while it is encouraging to be taught you can do anything, being taught that you are enough is true empowerment.
See you next month,