Happy International Women’s Day
I am lucky.
Looking back at my childhood, on a day like today when we old ‘Easties’ still commemorate our traditional International Women’s Day, I realise how much of my life now has roots in how I was brought up.
I was born in the late 70s (ok, that does make me sound a bit old now). Back then, I lived in what’s now known as the ‘Former East’ in Germany. And whilst it’s perhaps not been an ideal political and economical journey for my parents, my sister and I had an amazing childhood. The one thing the old ‘communist party regime’ definitely instilled in us was gender equality. I could argue that this may have been purely because of work force requirements, that as a nation we couldn’t afford stay at home mums.
But cynicism aside, I was brought up with a women’s ‘can do’ attitude, demonstrated every day by my mum and grandma, both working in management roles at schools. We also had very strong ties to Russia, and every year around the 8th of March I would get those wonderful wiggle cards (cards that change when you move them, I think it’s called lenticular printed cards) from my pen pal from Moscow. My pen pal was a boy (I remember Alexander, because for a while I thought I had two pals before realising that Sascha was merely a short form of his name, rather than another person). It always surprised me that I got a women’s day celebration card from him, being just a girl at the time myself, but it was nice because it showed a sense of respect and appreciation beyond being a mum. It was about being female and proud.
That very simple gesture – without any more rituals – on the 8th of March has definitely been part of creating a feeling inside me that, mother or not, being a woman is empowering, that we can change the world just as much as men, create our own luck, celebrate each other for our differences and for what unites us.
I have been living in England for more than half my life now, and I feel very lucky indeed that our society works just as hard on empowering women as I experienced as a child. It may not be perfect, but on days like today it’s worth remembering how far we have come. Without wanting to sound weird, I just want to say thank you to all the women and men now and in the past helping to create a society where we thrive based on our talents, not our gender.
Happy international women’s day!