International Women’s Day: March 8, 2019.
Throughout my life, whenever I am looking for someone to talk to, someone to have fun with, or someone to trust – I have consistently gravitated towards women.
Without conscious effort, I looked up one day, and realised that almost every single important relationship I had in my life was with a woman.
And like anyone in life will attest, so many life lessons and life changing moments come from those you keep company with – and as such, mine so often came from women.
Society convinced me from a young age that surrounding yourself with women was something to be ashamed of. That ‘real men’ had lots of male ‘mates’ and that having non-romantic relationships with girls meant that you were missing out on something, that it made you feminine, and less of a man.
But I had rock-solid friendships. People I could open up to, and speak honestly with. I had more love around me than I knew what to do with – so who was really missing out here?
Marking International Women’s Day gives us an opportunity to readjust our focus, to look left and right, and see how much of our lives, and our world, is shaped by the women around us.
It’s a time to celebrate what has been done, and a time to set to work on what needs to be.
It’s a time to recognise the amazing contributions that women have played in shaping who we are, and who we are yet to become.
My life wouldn’t be what it is today without the women I am lucky enough to have in it, and today I celebrate them all, and the range of things they bring to the world, every day.
So here’s to the women:
To the women who shock us. The ones who can take a pregnancy, albeit one that wasn’t scheduled, and from it produce a beautiful force for the world,
The ones who are out doing gymnastic runs and packing school lunches, when most others their age are partying and figuring out where they’re going to wake up tomorrow.
To the women we can open up to. The ones with lived experiences we learn from; with shoulders and ears we lean on and talk off; who help us make it through the hard times.
Those who speak openly about what scares them. Who aren’t afraid to look at their scars, acknowledge them, and work to heal them.
To the ones who give us strength, and the power to carry on. The first person I ever really opened up to about my mental health battles was a woman.
Later that afternoon she left a gift on my front door, with a card reading ‘Not all surprises have to be bad’.
To the women who are brave. The one who showed me what it was to walk into a room with nothing in your arsenal but your own self-confidence, and connect with people through kindness.
Who showed me that self-assurance doesn’t come from external praise, it comes from deep inside. From how you were brought up, and what you see when you look in the mirror.
That connecting with people comes from sharing yourself willingly, and standing tall – in spite of forces that may otherwise tell you to shrink.
The ones that take us under their wings. Who open their hearts as widely as they open their arms. Often not realising how immensely their friendship has impacted our lives – and forever changed its direction through such a simple action.
To the women who wake up every morning and keep the household running while their partner goes to work, wrangling three daughters at different schools.
Whose partners can succeed in career purely because they know they have a supportive woman they can count on handling the reigns back home.
The full-time workers, and the full-time mums.
The ones who inspire us, and the ones who give us opportunities to inspire.
To the aunties, and the cousins. To the godmothers, and the ones who loved us as their own.
To the ones who, even in sickness, show us what real courage and strength looks like.
And the ones that make us laugh more than anybody else.
To the sisters who show us perseverance,
And the sisters-in-law who show us what unconditional love and light feels like.
To the grandmothers. Who have been at the side of, and loved, their husbands for a time longer than I have been around to witness.
Who lived in an age that categorised them as mothers and homemakers only, but through their lives have shown themselves to be capable of so much more.
To the second mums, who we get as a bonus prize when we fall in love. Who come to us at a later stage in our lives, but fill our hearts as if they’ve been there forever.
To the ones who play the hybrid role of mother and grandmother.
And to the mums. I was given life because of mine (…twice), and my life keeps going because of what she continues to give to me.
These women are our rocks. The ones we know we can call on when our worlds get turned upside-down. Who take these challenges in their stride, and continue to step up, day after day.
Who put everyone else ahead of themselves, and manage to be the most attentive, and caring of friends.
The women who taught us the fragility of safety. And what it is like to have that innocence taken away from you by someone you know, or someone you don’t.
And the women who taught us about strength. About protecting those around you, unflinchingly. About being in your own corner, and backing yourself through the hard-times. About loving so hard that you can move mountains.
Women who have lost their partners far too young, but have taken on the role as widows and single-parents with such a fierce toughness, without ever losing an ounce of their care.
The women who wake up every day and wear a new hat depending on what their families, their friends, their neighbours, or their colleagues need from them.
Whether it be nurse, baker, chauffeur, or therapist. There’s nothing they can’t do, no-one they can’t be, nothing in this world that doesn’t get better from a woman’s touch.
To the ones we are born knowing, or the ones we are lucky enough to have stumble into our lives.
To the ones we look back on and remember fondly. The ones we pick up white feathers for, knowing they are sending us a message from above.
To the women who have enriched our lives, and brightened our worlds.
To all the boss bitches. The baby mummas. The girls that just wanna have fun. And the ones who run the world…sometimes all at once.
They do it all, every day, without a thought, without the promise of praise or thanks in return.
So today, we attempt to make the tiniest of dents in the eternal debt we seek to repay to them.
I feel so lucky to have had strong women around me my entire life, and I stand with them today and forever, as we fight to ensure that they are afforded the same opportunities in life.
The same opportunities in education or employment.
The same assurance of safety when they are in their homes, and when they walk down the street.
The same level of respect when choosing what they want to do with their lives, and how they choose to live them.
The women in my life taught me lessons that can only come from living in this world as a female, as well as lessons that can come from anyone who has weathered the storm of today’s modern world.
They taught me that there’s always going to be light and dark in life, that your life is only ever your own, and that you are the only one at the helm of deciding what you want to do with it.
Everyone deserves an opportunity to be celebrated, and today, I raise a glass and celebrate the women I know, and the women I don’t; the women who changed my life, and the women who have changed everyone else’s.
It was girls who got me through high school, women who got me through my university degree, and ladies who stood by me on my wedding day.
Every momentous occasion in my life, there has always been a woman by my side, and I wouldn’t want it any other way.
Today, we celebrate you; today I celebrate you, and thank you for what you have given to this world, and what you have given to me.
Because the world wouldn’t be the place it is without you, nor would we want to live in a world that doesn’t have you in it.
So here’s to the girls,
The ones who make up 53% of the earth’s population, but so much more than that in my life.
It’s too bad I never got around to marrying one.