Reflection on International Women’s Day

Before my 13th year, I had never heard of it. Where I grew up it wasn’t celebrated to my knowledge. But on March 8th, that spring day in Milan, Italy, the whole city and every street of it, smelled amazingly beautiful from the yellow mimosa flowers sold on every corner. Men bought and carried big bouquets home to their wives, mothers, daughters, and lovers. I remember thinking that it was was special, because it was different. But I still hadn’t come to understand the dynamics of why women needed a special day, or why they were, had been, and always have to fight for their rights. In my mind, there was still no difference between boys and girls, except how we looked, and how we looked at each other. 

Now when I think back, it felt “traditional.”

The world I live in is divided, and there may be conflict between traditionalists and non. Good and bad on both sides, in my humble opinion. And lucky for me, I am free to choose the best from either side. 

But there is also conflict within the traditional camp.

Women take their living, and unborn children, and flee. They lend an arm to the elderly. Some women stay. They and the young men who take to weapons fight. Fight for their lives, and for those of their children, the mothers, the disabled, the elderly. Falling into “traditional gender roles”. They take on the job where they are most needed. I suppose that there is equality in that, even though the actual work, and their roles are different. There is no less value in any of these tasks, in a time of war. 

Meanwhile, in the world observing the atrocities, affected only by how much we can take in, the fight for women’s rights goes on. And when the war is over, the fight for women’s rights and gender equality there, where they are fighting for their lives right now, will continue. 

I am quietly thinking. I want to do my share. I hear women, and men, who have fought for women’s rights for years, wondering if they should give up. NO! No, my friends. We cannot give up!

“Change is too slow,” “No-one is listening,” and maybe worst of all “Women are still not supporting other women.” What is wrong with us? This is not a war. This is not two sides fighting each other, neither women against women, nor women against men. This is a time of peace, where you and I are lucky to be, and during good times of peace we have to strengthen our good behaviors as we regress during hard times. The better our behavior is, the less bad it will be in challenging times. We can raise our own standards, so to speak.

It seems to me, that no matter how busy we are, we have to stop for a moment and think. Reflect. Put things in perspective. Kindness goes a long way. True kindness comes from softening your heart, and putting other people’s needs before your own. We must stop criticizing as we have no idea what the other person’s life is like, or why they are the way they are. I admit I have days when my mind is in a state of criticism. I don’t like anyone, and least of all myself. I know I’m very far away from what matters on those days, and I look inwards, because I know there is goodness there. It’s just playing hide-n-seek with me. Please stop living in fear of that, making way for someone else will stop your own forward propulsion. There is more than plenty of room, jobs, attention, and love for all of us, at least in the world you and I live in.

So, please on this day, and coming weeks, consider leaving worries about your your own competence, ability, value, and success, and instead think about those who don’t have what you have, and may need your support and help. If you are unsure what to do, just ask “How may I help you?” Or if they are too far away to answer, ask yourself, “If I were in their shoes, what would I like help with?”

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with Eva Helén – Speaker, Coach, and Author 

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