Happy International Women's Day to all the incredible women out there!
Today we celebrate the impact women have made around the world. “A global day celebrating the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women” according to the International Women's Day website. It's so exciting to highlight our successes and to see how far we've come. There are quite a few notable women that we may have learned about in school: Amelia Earhart, Harriet Tubman, Susan B. Anthony, Maya Angelou, Ruth Bader Ginsburg. We also now have our first woman, South Asian, Black Vice President of the United States!!! And there are so many more amazing women that have helped, and are helping, to shape our world, our culture, scientific discoveries and blazing trails for us all. I couldn't possibly list them all but I encourage you to learn more at www.womenshistory.org.
It's been a struggle to get to where we are today. A struggle for pay equity, social justice and economic justice continues. There is more we can unpack today about what women require in order to reach their full potential and to smash through the glass ceiling.
The Covid-19 pandemic has ripped the lid off of many deep-seeded issues. Issues that are now being discussed, openly. If I can try to organize some of the issues into a few categories; one being awareness of situations that affect women of all ages and stages of life and career. Awareness is a big one. The second is that we, as women, are reluctant to burden others with our problems. We tend to absorb everyone's problems which often weighs heavily on us and can make us feel resentful. Sharing family burdens, for example, will help us feel better and allow our partners to participate while better understanding the breadth of responsibilities we manage. And the third is the fact that if issues can be addressed and solutions found, it will actually benefit the broader environment, whether that is within a family, community or even a business or corporation.
In February 1980, President Jimmy Carter issued the first Presidential Proclamation declaring the Week of March 8th 1980 as National Women’s History Week, according to womenshistory.org. But radio.com says that "the lineage of the celebration can be traced back to 1908, when 15,000 female workers marched in New York City as they sought more humane working hours, better pay and the right to vote."
So what do these all mean to us collectively? Finding solutions that will alleviate stress for one person or one family or one community will strengthen our bonds and allow us to feel more secure, be more prosperous and grow together as a more understanding and empathetic people.
And what issues are women talking about? Three things (primarily): (1) work flexibility, (2) child and elder care, and (3) mental health. Although these may be brought forth by women they extend to more than just the hand-raisers. Women tend to be the caregivers of children and aging parents or relatives, responsibilities that are unpaid, naturally. Instead, they compound daily routines, add stress, reduce sleep and even reduce income in some cases.
A flexible work schedule can greatly help to lessen the strain because it allows women to schedule their days and weeks in a way that accommodates juggling multiple responsibilities. When you work a full day knowing that once you leave work you have essentially another job to do while at the same time trying to feed your family - whew! that adds up fast!
The pandemic has accelerated (read: forced) businesses is accept flexibility. Why? One funny way is because you can't hide things from your boss or co-workers while on Zoom! What we could once quietly stress about was blasted into view, literally. At first it was uncomfortable because women (and men) tried to hide the fact that they have kids, pets and other distractions. But the beauty of it was that we realized we were all going through similar things. Gladly it's out in the open now.
One of the most important collective issues is mental health and wellness and loosening the stigma attached to it. This goes for women, men and kids too. The 'tough guy' attitude is soooo 80s. Today we see how the burdens and stress take a toll on our health. It ranges from needing to take a bit of 'me' time all the way up to breakdowns and worse, suicide. Every single person has the right to speak up for their own health needs including mental health. It is not a weakness or a character flaw. It is akin to any other health issue that may need medical attention. No one would ever say you were 'weak' for going to a cardiologist about your heart, right? Or for managing diabetes. So why do we think that anti-anxiety or depression medication is somehow a sign that you are 'soft?' It's absurd in my opinion that anyone would or could talk negatively about this. If you feel like meds may make your daily existence easier to bare why wouldn't you take it? Not everyone requires medication, but it's a piece of a wholistic approach that can include a variety of regimens.
Another way to potentially improve your mental health is to take all available vacation days. Those breaks help to recharge and enjoy the fruits of your labor. The world will still turn even if you're not on your work laptop 24/7.
So.. today... International Women's Day.... lets take a moment to talk about ways that we can support and improve the issues that overwhelm us. To be brave enough to bring up ways that we can make our daily lives better and show empathy towards others who are feeling the weight of the world on their shoulders. Learn about women throughout history who have made amazing achievements. Congratulate yourself and other women in all of your large and small successes.
There are many activities, on- and offline today, March 8, that you can attend for free to learn more about women's achievements and what women are doing to support each other.
Take a moment. Women contribute equally to our history, our present and into our future. Hopefully, the more we discover women's achievements, the sooner we can share equality.