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Maybe it strikes you as strange that we have to designate a day to acknowledge the importance of half the world’s population. I find it strange, too, but this is the world we live in and I know you will have a role to play in making this day redundant – in making every day Women’s day as it is Men’s day.
If we want women to truly be treated as equal to men, we need to shape the hearts and minds of boys like you.
Did you know women get paid 23% less than men for doing the same job? Did you know women don’t get hired around their child bearing ages easily? Did you know 3 out of 4 women quit to look after their families? Is a child or parental burden only a woman’s? – you have seen differently at home with your father and with your grandfathers before that.
I want you to see that women can be ambitious and career-minded while still being nurturing and caring as you have hopefully seen with me. They can be driven to succeed while still doing good for their families and others around them. I founded a company that was built to help women make decisions about returning back to work. I’m working to make sure that women who work with us feel safe, happy and cared for. I obsess about how to keep the children in our care safe. How to alleviate the guilt of their mothers as they leave their prized possessions under our care?
I have to work extra hard, because there are still a lot of people who don’t think what we’re doing is important. A few years ago, we were told that building childcare centres was not important – even called a feminist movement. One man asked if I had a rich husband as I get to pursue my “hobby” of running schools for little children.
What I do isn’t niche, and the problem is real. Luckily, I don’t have to convince the people I work with. I am surrounded by smart and talented women and by the same measure incredible men who believe in this vision. Unlike so many other women, I never feel “less than,” or unheard. And when I need flexibility to take care of you both I ask for it encouraging women (and men, especially men) around me to do so. You say when you play sport, it helps you focus on your studies – for me when I work and I help others I am happy and it helps me focus my energies at home.
Your role is not only to carry what you have seen at home forward but to change the hearts and minds of friends around you who have not seen this. Respect meted in abundance, no stereotypes in roles (I concede your father is a better cook!), democracy in decision making and just a lot of overall support and empathy for what each stage in life puts on in terms of burden of expectations specifically on women. You have had a stay at home grandmother and a working grandmother but both treated as equals in the relationships and the choice purely theirs. You have seen parents who have supported each other at various stages recognizing they can do very little without that helping hand from the other.
The question I always ask you when you see something that doesn’t seem fair –what are you going to do about it?
On this one I am just going to say DO YOUR BIT KIDDOS – don’t have boy (only) games, girl (only) hobbies, don’t perpetuate the age-old stereotypes on what girls and boys can and cannot do. Celebrate the girls and women around you. Respect what each of you bring to the table – the perspective that might be slightly different and think about what you can learn from it.
If you start now and are part of encouraging every girl and woman you know to be at the table, cheering them on – I know the world won’t need one special day to recognize women and their achievements.
Go on change the world. I have always known it will be a better place when children, especially awesome ones like you, are mindful and thoughtful of what doesn’t work in it today.
This article was originally published on Priya Krishnan’s LinkedIn profile and has been re-published here with the author’s permission