Here’s to International Women’s Day. A day celebrating all that is means to be female and all that we’ve accomplished towards equality over the centuries. Despite being a day late – hey, I’ve got a baby and no longer work to my own schedule, I wanted to spend a few minutes to celebrate the brave and strong women I know.
Here’s to my mum friends. Those who are standing side-by-side with me on this journey of motherhood. Struggling with lack of sleep, babies with colic, the dreaded witching hour, breastfeeding issues but showing their bubba and fellow mamas nothing but love and support.
Here’s to my university girls. Hotwells Hotties (named by the area we lived in when we rented in Bristol during our uni days) who’ve stayed in touch for over a decade and still support each other through so much. I love how we talk about everything and anything on our whatsapp group – trying to find our path in the world of work, parenting, holidays, small successes, hilarious antics. Your support and presence makes my days happier and I can’t imagine a world without you.
My Newnham ladies
Here’s to my mum and sister who have known me for all (or much of) my life and who’ve supported me through some of my darkest days. You know that you’ve got good women in your corner when you can face hard truths together and can disagree about much together but still love each other fiercely. As my sister said yesterday – you’re both strong, independent, vulnerable, kind and really funny.
And to my Newnham cousins and aunties in Australia, I also want to honour you today. For the love you have shown me when I’ve visited and for the friendships that I feel are just blossoming now as you reach out to me with such love and support as I take my first steps as a mother.
My female friends all over the world
Here’s to you, all my women friends across the world. From Japan to Austin, Norwich to Norway, Perth to New York, you all teach me much about what it is to be a strong woman in this world. Serving others above self, striving to find your path in this world, going all in for love, pushing forward with amazing careers. You’re all so different and I take so much from each of you and am so thankful that the online world allows me to keep in touch more than ever would have been possible.
To women in the past
Here’s to all those who have battled in the past to allow me to be able to vote and who gave me the freedom to choose who I wanted to marry, to work, to receive an education, to be taken seriously as a human being and to have access to free contraceptives so that I have control over my own body and a choice about when I want to start a family. There was an excellent episode of the guilty feminist to celebrate the centenary of women getting the right to vote in the UK and it showed me the lengths to which you went to bring ease, choice and freedom to my life. Some of you died for me, went through hardships unimaginable and I’m forever grateful to you.
And here’s to you, amazing and talented women who have pushed the boundaries of science, politics or society in the pursuit of excellence. Ada Lovelace, Malala, Amelia Earhart, Michelle Obama, Frida Kahlo, Margaret Hamilton, Serena Williams…the list could go on and on. You’ve paved the way for other women to step forward into brilliance and I want to honour you for that.
To women of the future
Here’s to you, women who will come after me. The small babies and young girls I see in my friendship groups – Anwen, Hilary, Nora, Julia, Martha, Faith, Esmé, Emily, Robin, Sienna, Elise, Evie, Hannah…and all those my mummy brain has forgotten! I hope you are brave and courageous in going after what you want, that you knowingly choose your future – whether it’s to be a badass full-time mum or to follow your passions in the world of work (or a mix of the two). To know you have choices and that you don’t need a man to be complete.
Here’s to you, Jenson. Yes, you’re not a female (although as a baby you are so beautiful and I think you could rock a dress!) but I still want to honour you and what I hope you will grow up to be. A feminist. Someone who believes in equality for all people, regardless of gender. I hope you know that everything is for everyone, that you are free to play with my little pony, polly pocket or to wear wings and a tutu if you like…or stick with Mighty Max and Thomas the Tank Engine. None of these things makes you any less a person. And I hope that you grow up respecting all people, regardless of background, gender or race. I know you have been born into good fortune – being white, male, in a developed country – and I hope that you use these privileges to amplify the voices of those who would otherwise not be heard in society.
I know that in some ways this seems like a big expectation to place on someone so small, but in a way that shows me how far we have to still go in our fight for true equality. And how I hope you are part of that journey, little one.
So yes, I’m a day late to the International Women’s Day party, but I still raise my (non-alcoholic) glass up to you all, my sisters of the world.