(I meant to post yesterday, but I was so busy celebrating International Women’s Day, I didn’t have time to reflect on it. Lucky me.)
I live in a wonderful place, and have an amazing and supportive community. While for many this day of recognition passes unnoticed, I am fortunate enough to live in a community willing and wanting to embrace what it means to celebrate women.
I am very aware of how lucky I am, but also very aware of how my choices helped shape where I am now. As a young women, I was faced, as many are, to embrace my own gender identity and to reject negative pressures and stereotypes. I choose to listen to strong role models and be proud of who I am, my sexuality, my shape and form.
This wasn’t easy though. There are still moments, days, where the burden and the frustration gets the better of me. But I live here, in Canada where I have rights and privileges under the law. Where I can choose to support a feminist organization and there is little repercussion. I can choose who I do business with, who I associate with, and who/ what I support. Basically, I have a choice and everyday I celebrate that.
I choose to work in an industry that prides themselves on equitable practises. Not every women gets that choice. I choose who I associate with, and can choose to reject misogyny in my personal sphere of influence. Very few women get that choice. When they have a choice, the repercussions are often violent and deadly.
Two weeks ago, in India’s rural province of Rajasthan, I met low-caste girls whose mothers had defied their fathers to insist they go to school. The girls had turned up on the dot of 9 a.m., their worn uniforms well pressed, their hair slicked down. But they sat alone and in the dark, because they were too short to reach up and open the shutters, and their teachers had not come – because only women deign to teach in a low-caste girls school, and the teachers can’t bear the sexual harassment they face when they take public transport, which is all they can afford, to get to work. The girls sat in quiet rows with their books open, trying to sound out words, lips working, fingers sliding along the tattered pages.
This is an excerpt from a fantastic piece by Stephanie Nolan in the Globe and Mail yesterday. She highlights the hard road many women still have to walk down. The fight for free will and personal safety women worldwide are still fighting. Even here at home, women face discrimination and sexism daily. they fight to be heard and recognized as valuable. Our shameful Highway of Tears symbolizes this struggle for many.
Everyone has a choice, everyday, to let members of our society be treated as less than others. This is not just women, but anyone who faces prejudice and discrimination. Everyone can do something to change our world, whether it be as simple as supporting an organization working towards betterment, or as complex as going to the dark places in our world and supporting those fighting for light.
Everyone has a choice to continue to let it happen, or work towards something better.