Before we get on to that...I wonder where did February disappear? I know short month and all that...but it has just whizzed past...I got diamond earrings for Valentine's Day !!! That's the only memory of February that I have now...everything else seems a blur...
For the first time in my life, I am wondering what it has been to be a woman? Have I had any privileges because I was a woman? Were there discriminations? And most importantly, have I enjoyed being a woman for 34 odd years in this planet?
I am lucky enough to have parents who were proud to have 2 daughters. I realized how privileged I was when recently in an official training multiple senior people started their comments with "Fortunately, I don't have daughters..", "Fortunately, I don't have daughters or sisters..." and so on..I was brizzling, but didn't know how to react. (I always thought discrimination based on gender, atleast when it comes to your own kids was non-existent in an educated professional society - business families I could still understand..)Finally, a woman partner got up and said "Fortunately, we all have mothers ..."
Both my father and my mother gave us all the freedom to take our own decisions and gave us the best possible opportunities that their circumstances could offer...This has shaped my personality a lot and I have never felt inferior to any man ...
The workplace has not been very kind. I work in a self-proclaimed 'gender-neutral' firm and while there have been no official glass ceilings, the statistics of ladies in managerial roles clearly speak a different story. To my firm's credit, it is doing all it can to encourage and promote gender diversity, but the roles that society expect women to perform often clash with what firm expects from an employee...And that brings me to the famous Sheryl Sandberg quote 'Don't leave before you leave'...This is important, whether you are a man or a woman.
Coming to marriage, marrying a guy with a professional mom helped a lot...and that is why, even though I believe everyone makes their own choices, I personally believe in being a working mom - it not only gives your daughters the courage and inspiration to respect their dreams, but also teaches your sons to respect the dreams of their spouses ! My hubby has been supportive to a large extent, and does not believe in traditional role stereotypes - washing dishes, washing clothes, managing finances, washing bums, singing lullabies - all get done based on who is free at a given point in time ! If the skill is absent, we try to teach each other the skills required...(note to self: Learn Driving !) Ofcourse, societial conditioning does make him say at times "Look, how great a hubby I am !", but I have learnt to live with it :P.
Now the most important question - do I enjoy being a woman? Sadly, the honest answer is no...Despite having been privileged to face very less discrimination and to get a whole lot of support and encouragement, I still do not enjoy being a woman. The steep struggle to hold on to what most men take for granted is exhausting to say the least. Any job interview will have the mandatory questions "Are you ok travelling?, Who takes care of kids etc" None of which ever gets asked to a man ! If we have visitors and the food is not laid out the way it should be, no one will ask the guy "why are you not doing it properly?". If a guy wears shorts, no one has a problem...In each of these instances I have had to patiently explain (and sometimes not so patiently) my stance ! If I walk late into my apartment after an exhausting day of work, I get cold doubtful stares...A guy gets appreciated for how responsible he is...If I save up and build a house, I am ambitious...when the guy does it, he is smart and caring for his family ! The list is endless and the road is rough...who doesn't like smooth sailing !
And so, on this women's day I hope that instead of teaching our women self-defence and gifting them pepper sprays, let us teach our boys the virtues of being selfless, kind and loving...Let us teach them that tears are not a sign of weakness...Let us never tell them "Don't be a sissy"...Let us gift kitchen sets to our sons and business board games to our daughters and let us teach them to play together !