March 8 is an international day celebrating women across the globe. It recognizes what we have done, where we have succeeded, as well as what steps we still have to take. This is a day that honors all that women have accomplished and the steps that we have taken towards complete gender parity.
The theme this year was “An equaled world is an enabled world”. To me, this year focused on diminishing the divide between men and women, and on us moving forward together as a human race. It has never been about women getting more; it is about women equality. How can we all step out of our own heads and biases, and move towards something that can empowers all people? Gender equality is for those who have stepped before us, our friends and neighbors that surround us now, and our future daughters. Gender equality is not just those in our close circles, but extends to those that we can lift up and help them shatter glass ceilings. Women like Jane Addams, who is credited with founding the field of social work. I think of women like Rosa Parks, who refused to give up her bus seat because of the color of her skin. I think of Ruth Bader Ginsburg who has devoted her life to shattering the brick walls before her and overcoming obstacles. I think of Emma Watson, who uses her platform as a talented actress to empower women to be the superhero of the story. What do these women have in common you may ask? They have inspired and continue to inspire women to live up to the story that they want to write, that they want to create.
On a personal level, I think of my grandma, GG. She passed away in September of 2019, but I have never felt her presence and her spirit more than this past year. I have felt her pushing me to move forward and empower others through a career in social work. It feels like now she is my biggest driving force. I have felt her encouraging me to empower my two younger sisters, who are just as empowering to me. I think of my mom, Robin, who has sacrificed more than any person I know for the three of us. I think of my dad who has been my biggest encourager, who has supported me in whatever my endeavor may be, the career and education path that I so choose. Being a girl dad, he has been exposed to realities that we face as women, such as lack of pay equality and unequal access to resources. He has developed a passion for a world where we don’t have to work twice as hard as men to get where we want to go, and a world where we do not have to live in fear of losing opportunities because of gender. I think of my grandpa, Big B, who been surrounded by powerful women his whole life, and has continued to make it his mission to make sure that we are the most equipped for wherever our paths take us. The reality is that gender equality goes so much further than women wanting equality. It is just as much a man’s issue as it is a women’s issue, and these men in my life have shown me that.
I realize this type of support is a privilege, one that not everyone has. Not every woman has a support system, especially one that pushes her to be a leader and a world-changer, regardless of gender. So, while International Women’s Day is important, how can we ask ourselves everyday who we are empowering? How are we creating a more equitable world? What do we want to leave behind for the women and girls that come after us? Promoting gender equality in our everyday lives can take many forms, such as requesting or providing anti-bias trainings in our work places, valuing diversity, sharing household chores and childcare equally, supporting women in political campaigns and various other fields where women are the minority, and finally just looking out for our fellow women and sticking up for them when something does not look right, such as possibilities of harassment or domestic violence. However, none of this can be done without looking inside yourself towards your own biases and assumptions. Once you recognize and reflect on your own actions, then it will be easier to advocate and challenge those previously held thoughts and beliefs. The challenge for myself and for you is to hold on to that, think about it and take a next step. Chase after that world that you want for yourself, and you want for those that follow you. Let’s make every day International Women’s Day!