Much to celebrate but …

Last Sunday was International Women’s Day.  To slightly tweak an old Virginia Slims cigarette ad, “we’ve come a long way baby” but international women's daylet’s not rest on our laurels just yet.  We still have a way to go.

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.





12 thoughts on “Much to celebrate but …

  1. Yes.
    I am an engineer and work in a nontraditional field. Women are still vastly under represented in applied science, but it is improving.
    We still need to encourage found women to believe they can follow whatever path they wish.

  2. What a great post, Fransi. Funny thing is, I was in the grocery store yesterday, and an attractive 30-something father was there amongst the hoards of women, pushing his shopping cart around with his preschooler and toddler in tow. He caught my attention because while he was certainly competent in managing the grocery shopping AND his two children, he still looked like a fish out of water. And it called to mind this very topic — that a man in the grocery store with two young children still looks very out of place in 2015. If his wife/girlfriend were there, attending to the same tasks, she likely would have escaped my attention completely.

    You’re right — birthplace, parents, financial advantage, and a little luck have a lot to do with the success and growing equality of women, but times continue to change, and awareness that more needs to be done is key.

    • Thanks so much Gwen. And you’re so right. We’re always a little taken aback when a man chooses to stay at home with the kids while his wife pursues her career. But I am seeing more and more of it here. I also just read this morning that the Ontario government is running a multi-million dollar advertising campaign against sexual violence aimed at getting people to stop sitting idly by and start speaking out in defence of victims. There’s even a component of the campaign going into schools. That is very exciting news. So yes, times are changing but there is much more to be done. How’s your writing going Gwen? Hope it’s going well.

      • Thanks for asking about my writing. My full-time work assignment ended a few weeks ago and I’m back to part-time, so in theory I have more time to write. Unfortunately I’m stuck in procrastination mode at the moment. I keep willing myself to “just do it,” but honestly I’ve just been piddling around. Yesterday I was toying with different ideas for deadlines to motivate myself to finish the dag-gone manuscript I started last July. I’ve come up with a couple, so I think I’ll be back on track soon. Hopefully.

      • It’ll happen when it’s time. This I know from personal experience. Several times I’ve hit snags with my book and I’ve learned to let it go. Not to try and force it. And each time all of a sudden, out of the blue, an idea or a thought or a sentence would pop into my head and I’d reach for my computer or a pen and some paper and it would just start to flow out of me. I think our sub-conscious is trying to work things out we’re not conscious of — and when that’s done we just sit down and start to write again. Do other things in the meantime. I am looking forward to reading it one day.

      • That exact scenario happens to me, often. I guess I experience “writers guilt” — that I should be working on it, even when the words & ideas won’t come. Patience and time.

      • Yes, patience and time. And no succumbing to doubt. Believe it will happen and let the Universe unfold. It’s in you and it will come out when it’s ready.

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