Today is International Woman’s Day, a day to celebrate and recognize the movement of women’s rights. According to the International Women’s Day website the theme this year is “Be bold for change.”
What exactly does that mean to “be bold for change?” To me, it means to change our expectations. Women need to be treated equal to men, but we need to remember that equal doesn’t mean the same. Women and men are so entirely different from each other in our physical, mental, and behavioral capacities that it is unreasonable for us to be treated exactly the same. Women naturally have the ability to give birth; men do not. Although females hesitate to admit it, most men are built physically stronger than women. Instead of focusing on our differences, we should embrace them and use them to the best of our abilities.
However, we should not be discriminated in any areas, including employment. If women are qualified and capable of working in a capacity typically filled by men, then women should definitely not suffer discrimination, and vice versa.
Another way to "be bold for change" is for women to change our perceptions of each other. For what accomplishments do we recognize other women? What women do we hold in high regard? Too often, women recognize and esteem each other for their physical appeal rather than their accomplishments and contributions to society.
To prove this point, I conducted a survey with my seventh grade female students. I asked them to raise their hands if they recognized the names of four young women from pop culture: Emma Watson (actress/activist), Kylie and Kendall Jenner (models and who-knows-what-else), and Malala Yousafzai (Pakistani activist). Of the fifty surveyed, 32% recognized Emma Watson, and only 10% recognized Malala Yousafzai. However, 42% recognized the Jenner girls.
As I pointed out to my students, women in general fail to acknowledge the success of members of our own gender. Unless we take ourselves seriously and recognize each other for something other than our physical appearances, then we cannot expect respect and from the rest of the world.
This discrepancy needs to change, and it must change with us. It begins with me. Actually, I am rather disappointed in myself. When I researched International Women’s Day through the Google search engine, the following names appeared at the top of the searches: Latifa Elnadi, Ida B. Wells, Ada Loveless, Sally Ride, Lina Bo Bardi, Cecilia Grierson, Frida Kahlo, Miriam Makeba, Olga Skorokhodova, Halet Çambel , Lee Tai-young, Rukmini Devi Arundale, and Suzanne Lenglen. Of all of names listed, I only recognize three.
On this International Women’s Day, I encourage you to research a woman with whom you are unfamiliar and recognize her accomplishments. I challenge you to “be bold for change!”
Until the next post . . . keep smiling!