In many parts of the world women are still seen, and treated, as chattel. In some parts of the world they’re considered so worthless, such a burden they’re killed as soon as they’re born. In some parts of the world they still have to suffer through genital mutilation, to ensure they get no pleasure from sex.
In some parts of the world they’re not allowed to even look at a man, they’re forced to be covered up from head to toe with slits only for their eyes. In some parts of the world if they dare to commit adultery and get caught they’re stoned to death. They have no rights, they have no voice, they have no say, they are virtual prisoners. They are there to obey and to serve. Period. Still, in 2015.
Right here in our own backyards women are still abused and raped; and, on those rare occasions when they have the courage to come forward they’re still not taken seriously. The consensus still is that somehow they asked for it, that somehow it’s their fault. Women still pay a price for taking time out of their careers to have a child. Women still don’t earn the same money as their male counterparts. And how many women, versus men, sit on Boards or are company presidents and CEOs? Or quite frankly, are high ranking politicians?
Yeah, I hear you. Right about now you’re wondering why I even mentioned the word “celebrate.” Well, I guess it’s because the news isn’t all bad. As my regular readers know, I volunteer at a large hospital here, in Toronto. We have a lot of female doctors, many of whom are surgeons and prominent ones at that. There was a time, not all that long ago, when that would have been unheard of.
We also get a lot of student volunteers — both at the high school and university levels. And it is truly inspiring to hear how many of the girls plan to become doctors. They’re not saying it apologetically or wistfully or tentatively, either. These young women know what they want, feel entitled and confident and they’re going for it. Just as young women with other dreams and aspirations are doing. This is the generation that is determined to not only have it all, but wants to determine exactly what their version of “all” is. And of this we can be absolutely sure — it will not be a one-size-fits-all, “all”.
I must have been ahead of my time. At a time when most of my generation wanted nothing more than to get married and have children, I said “no thanks, I’ll take the man without the extras.” At a time when most of my generation, and the previous one, went into nursing or teaching or took typing and shorthand, I said “no thanks, I want to work in advertising, I want to be a writer.” And honestly, it never dawned on me that I shouldn’t, or couldn’t.
Or maybe for that I have to thank the long list of strong, brave, capable, determined women who came before me and whose genetic matter is part of my own DNA. My mother and her two sisters. My grandmothers and all their sisters. My great grandmother, who I was lucky enough to have in my life until my early twenties and was a role model par excellence. It certainly didn’t hurt that I was born into a family, in a country and at a time when I could make my own choices, have big dreams and follow them and speak my mind freely at home, in public and in the voting booth. Yes, I’m fortunate. And grateful.
But not so grateful I’m ready to just sit back now and guzzle champagne. Not until we make sure that all girls and all women everywhere have something to celebrate as well.