Let's Celebrate Womanhood

Well my lovely friend, it's been awhile.

The third last time I wrote was (you guessed it) International Women's Day last year.

That's okay, I have been busy. Moving out to the woods and switching jobs and MCing weddings and sitting in meditation retreats and hiking the forest of my backyard and learning about International Development and social change and travelling to Vegas, Chicago, San Francisco, Halifax, Arizona, going home and spending time with my nephews and niece and well, just living.

But I'm back. For a very simple, yet significant, reason. It's time to celebrate women again.

Tonight I spent a couple of hours learning from a variety of women (and men) with different backgrounds, ethnicities and academic views, about what International Women's Day means to them. I then sat at a cozy bar drinking red wine with two amazing women friends of my own, debating the life and times of being a woman and what International Women's Day should really be about (in our minds).

There are so many different trains of thoughts about what this day could mean (if, might I mention, you have ever even heard of this day. Sad to hear that so many people apparently have not. It's March 8th by the way, and has been around since 1908.) To some people, it could be a day to dissect and stand up for indigenous rights, LGBT rights, men's rights, civil rights, or gender equality. It could mean debating the difference between men and women and why don't men have a day? It could mean dissecting the various segments of being a woman - transgender, gay, bisexual or feminist.

But, after much reflection, I strongly believe it all boils down to this:

International Women's Day is a day of celebration for all of us.

It's a day of solidarity.

It's a day to rejoice on the advancements we have made over time, as a full-on-doesn't-matter-what-race-culture-age you are. It's a day to rejoice about the general species of: women.

A quick google search will show you about twenty sites that have these sad stats about being a woman:

  • Women perform 66% of the world’s work and produce 50% of the food. However, they earn just 10% of incomes and own 1% of the property globally
  • Out of 197 countries, only 22 of them have women currently serving as heads of state — just 11.2%
  • In business, the gender gap remains wide. In the United States, for example, only 21 of the CEOs of Fortune 500 companies are women.
  • In nearly every country, women work longer hours than men and are paid less*

But what I'm looking for are these kinds of facts:

  • There are currently 17 countries with women as heads of government, heads of state, or both; this, according to the UN, is more than double what it was in 2005 (yes, this site said 17 instead of 22. It was written earlier than the one above, so look, we have five more in that stat above! More progress!)
  • Generally considered to be the world’s first novel, The Tale of Genji was written in Japan around AD 1000 by Murasaki Shikibu—a woman.
  • The two highest IQs ever recorded on a standard test both belong to women.
  • Mary Queen of Scots has been attributed to creating the world’s first golf course.**

(Yes, the above seem like random facts, but I googled over and over "positive facts about women's rights" and "positive International Women's Day facts" and yet these were, quite literally, the best I could find. Hmmm. Next blog - more celebratory women websites).

In all seriousness, this week I have thought long and hard about what it means to be a woman. In my short life I have traveled to nations that are the poorest in the world. I've sat with women in oppressed regions: in the slums of India, in the dust and dirt of El Salvador. I have seen them laugh. I have seen them rise up against domestic violence. I have seen them plant food and cook feasts, nurture their children, and show more kindness than I knew possible. I have seen ingenuity. And brilliance. And passion. 

I have also sat in elite boardrooms with some of the most intelligent women to walk the planet here in Canada. I have seen those who have the most incredible outward (and inward) beauty - the best clothes that money can buy, the best make-up, the best hair, the nicest houses, the whole damn white picket fence. 

I have loved and admired both sets of women alike. And I've seen so many similarities. I have seen hard work and determination and grit in each and every single one of them. I have seen wisdom, grace, and nurturing spirits. It doesn't matter which set it's coming from, there is something seriously special about being a female. 

So what does being a woman mean, universally? 
It means loving with all of your heart. Taking risks and being vulnerable and opening yourself up to heartache on the behalf of others. It means spending long nights cooking and cleaning for people so that they will be pleased, happy, and nourished. It means not worrying about getting credit for the love that you bestow constantly - the light that you shine, because seeing others happiness is enough. It means loving from afar and letting go and holding tightly and not wanting to let go. Being a woman means being a life force. Literally. It means passing on the eternal breath of nature. It brings about motherhood, which I have not stepped into yet, but experienced through so many of my very closest loved ones and my own (possibly the best woman alive) my mother. This, to me, is everything in life. This has given every single one of you reading this LIFE. That is no small feat. That is no mistake by nature. That is something that needs celebrating.  

Being a woman means creating connections with girlfriends that only sisterhood can understand. It means that when a friend comes over after a heartbreak, you get the chocolate cake ready. It means when a friend is really going through tough times, you get the spare room ready, no questions asked. It might mean planting a garden, doing eight loads of laundry, settling thirty disputes, changing five diapers, cooking dinner for the family, and planning the next grocery list - all in eight hours. It might mean traveling all day for work and listening to eight co-workers concerns and making them feel special and forgetting to do your own yoga practice because other people need you and calling your girlfriend at 11 p.m. when you're meant to go to bed because she needs to know what to wear tomorrow. 
Being a woman means that you truly care.

It means being a mother, a sister, an aunt, a grandma. 

It's something that you cannot describe in so many words. It means so much. 

My biggest wish is that everyone, on Sunday, March 8th, will spend the day just rejoicing in the womanhood around the world. Thank the woman next to you, or the one that gave life to you. Let's forget all the other segments it can break into and for one day - let's just celebrate womanhood.

* Source: http://www.theglobalist.com/10-facts-international-womens-day/
** Source: http://www.levo.com/articles/news/facts-about-women-international-womens-day