While walking to work the other day, my mind was flickering round in its usual disorganised state when my thoughts finally settled on International Women’s Day. I began to think of the origins of it and how widely acknowledged it is and to what extent it is celebrated. Do all countries celebrate it for the same reasons?
Turns out, this year marks the 104th celebration of IWD. It was started in the USA but very quickly spread worldwide. Every country has its own take on what aspect the day entails and whether it’s a celebration of gratitude, appreciation and love towards women, or an opportunity to raise awareness of women’s rights and social achievements gained thus far. The latter is the most ‘celebrated’ version around the globe, especially in countries where woman have strict cultural and religious restrictions imposed on them.
My primary reason for this post, however, is my mother. As I was thinking about International Women’s Day, I realised that in the UK it falls over the same weekend as Mothers Day. My mother comes from an incredibly strong-willed line of women in her family. My great grandmother
campaigned as a suffragette for women’s right to the vote, and women’s position in society and equality. At the age of 89 she was up ladders cleaning windows at 6 am and taking on the world by lunch! This strength, determination and inspiring pride could not go unnoticed by my grandmother who, in turn, single handedly raised my mother after my grandfather was killed at the end of the Second World War. Independence and pride have always been strong themes within the women of my family, and my dear mother is absolutely no exception. I know that these qualities have been inherited and passed down the generations through to my sister and I. At every stage, there has been a role model, and I like to believe that one day I can be that role model to a mini me!
As I grow up, and especially moreso in the last couple of years, I realise quite how much my mother’s upbringing (her own and in turn her way of bringing us up) has impacted my life. I don’t think she is aware of how often I’ll do something and realise that I am becoming more and more like her as each year goes by. As a child she would drag (sometimes probably literally, in the nicest of ways!) us around museums and art galleries and take time to explain things to us to try and get us interested. We would sit in the car for hours to drive to see, as far as us children could tell, a pile of ancient rocks. We would joke about this for many years to come, until the joke turned around–I ended up studying Classical Civilisation, with a focus on ancient art and architecture…ironic? I don’t think so!
Remember as child when you asked a million and one questions, and you were always in awe at ho
w adults always seemed to know the answers? As I’ve grown older I’ve realised that my mother knew all the answers because if ever she didn’t know an answer, she would quickly scuttle over to our mammoth book collection and know exactly where to find an answer to tell me. Even still today, if something comes up that she isn’t sure of the answer or reason she’ll immediately research it find out about it…her brain has no limits of knowledge space. I hope that as my mind matures and calms down, I’ll adopt this same policy as her.
Not only is her intrigue and intellect a huge inspriation, but also the battles she has fought through her life. When I was seven years old, she was diagnosed with breast cancer. Obviously I wasn’t aware of the ins and outs at the time, but equally my mother never made me feel worried, or like anything was changing. She kept so brave throughout the entire ordeal and, once again, came out stronger on the other end for it. She never gives in and nothing is too hard for her.
I hope that everyone has a role model out there to look up to–be it a mother, sister, aunt, best friend or celebrity. Inspiring women are everywhere and we need to continue this celebration on.