Today is Women’s Day. When I asked some of the women that I work with, how this is marked in their organisation, the response is “we get gifts”, “there are talks by seniors”, “ we get flowers”, “we go out for team lunch” and “most men crib saying what is so special?”. These are the same things that I have seen and heard for the last 18 years since I have been in the corporate world. Nothing much has changed, though the number of women in the workforce has grown. I must admit that I get a little irritated when I hear of these kinds of “celebrations”. They somehow feel frivolous to me.
What are we truly celebrating? When I ask this question, most just pause and wonder why. That surprises me, and I push them to think- what are we truly celebrating? Then slowly the answers trickle in. “We are celebrating the worth of women”, “we are celebrating our growth in a patriarchal society”, “we are celebrating the way we are beginning to change the workplace….”, “we are celebrating our stepping out of the social norms that our parents had for us…”
I personally believe that marking a day to affirm the difference, a person makes to you and the society, slowly, through one action at a time, is what one needs to celebrate today. There are so many women around us who are helping change the conversation around gender and equality in different ways, some are doing this consciously from a platform and many are doing this by just being themselves, doing what they know to do, by doing it to the best of their abilities.
I believe this is a day to celebrate the many women who stay in the background and help other women to step out and explore the world. These are women who work in the shadows, the mothers and mothers in law who take care of the home and child, the house helps who ensure the food is ready and the house is clean, the care taker at the day-care who manages the child when the mother is at work, the lady in the school bus who cares for the child’s safety through the bus trip every day, the bus driver who ensures she drives carefully as she ferries the children to school every day, the teacher at the school who nurtures the child and builds their confidence, that music teacher who recognizes your child’s talent and encourages, the sports coach who is constantly helping push the boundaries of physical and mental grit, the janitor at the workplace who ensures you have a clean carpet and toilet, every day.
When I look around, I find that I am surrounded by women who are making a deep impact on me and on many around them. One is doing through her ability to paint her feelings, another one shows me what it takes to be a truly honest will, oneself. A friend that shows what it means to be passionate about cooking and crafts, while another one impacts others with her equanimity in any situation. One by showing what it means to be truly empathetic to humans and another who fights tooth and nail to protect wild-life, another who wants to save the weaving history. A woman friend who shows me what it takes to truly understand an issue that polarizes people and another friend who shows me how to not jump to conclusions. I started making a list and it went on and on.
It is not just women, but men too who have helped make the world a better place for women. The awake CEOs and Heads of Business in the companies that I consult with, who truly care about making the workplace equitable and work hard towards it much against the push back within their organisations, the colleague who always ensures that I am seen as equal partner in all the work we do, the friends who compliment genuinely on social media without being worried about what others might think, the husband and son who are extremely proud of what I do. The list though small, is deeply meaningful.
It is not just humans but the female of other species too that do their bit to make this world a better place. “Gauri”,the female dog on the street who I encounter on my walks every day, she wags her tail, rolls on the floor so that I can pet her and shows what unconditional love means. The street cat who plays with her kitten and purrs when she sees me and helps me pause to appreciate the world a little bit.
This Women’s Day is a good time to affirm a person around you who adds a tiny drop of her or his magic to your universe. Just make it meaningful. As for me, I plan to make this a little personal by sending out a note to each of those who are making a difference to my life. The mom, husband, son, the dog and the cat will get additional hugs.