"I want my kids to know the day. Not as a day where women wear pink and have scones and tea, but to know that it's a day that matters."
International Women's Day has sat pretty quietly in the March 8 space of the Australian calendar for nearly one hundred years. We see it now, but as a kid, it was as foreign as sushi was. It was as unheard of as riding your bike without Spokey-Dokeys. But I want my kids to know the day. Not as a day where women wear pink and have scones and tea, but to know that it's a day that matters.
I want my 8-year-old daughter to know that International Women's Day is about her.
1. It has a history dating back to 1909
Beginning in New York City, before it became the backdrop to Sesame Street or every other rom-com, when women were fighting for their rights to fairer pay and working conditions. It resonated internationally, and started a powerful female voice. The colours of International Women's Day are specific. Purple, for power and ambition. Green, for dignity, hope and justice. And white, was historically used for purity - a colour that has since been KonMari-ed right out.
To get little kids to be quiet, lower your voice instead of raising it. This forces kids to focus. Got a whole pack to corral? Whisper, "If you want to hear what we're doing next, hop on one foot." Goofy jumping is bound to be contagious.
Fight for your rights. Image: Getty
2. It made a difference
It recognises the unjust that women and girls have endured and the severity of what some are still fighting to change. Going to school, speaking freely; these weren't the norm for the girls who share my daughters blood-line, or for many girls around the world today.
3. That men and women are not equal
In that we are not the same. We naturally have different roles, identities and strengths, and that is not a bad thing. We are not in competition to be better than men and boys, the goal is to be treated and respected equally.
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4. With choice and freedom, comes responsibility
Yes, we can wear what we want, say what we want and do whatever we want, but all choices have impact. There is a difference in 'could' and 'should' and that could also be the difference in creating real change.
Be whoever you want to be. Image: iStock
5. Marriage is a choice, not an expectation
She can marry or NOT marry, whoever she wants.
6. That she is a feminist, and so am I
As is her brother, her dad, her uncle, her best friend, her Nanna, and her teacher. And it's not a dirty word. We all want people treated fairly and be loved and safe and happy. That is equality, and feminism is equality.
"You know your children are growing up when they stop asking you where they came from and refuse to tell you where they’re going." - P. J. O’Rourke
7.Voting is a privilege and a power
As she grows I will teach her to vote big and vote mindfully, not just tick one box and have a sausage sandwich.
Be loud and proud. Image: iStock
8. Life is not fair
But that she has every right to challenge the things that can be changed. It requires courage, but there is no reason why she can't be that person who stands up to call out something that isn't right.
We women have come a long way and, in Australia, generally thrive. But the relevance of March 8 is that it recognises the path which was painstakingly laid so women can live their lives outside of a man's shadow. We can bare arms, and thighs, work 8-hour days as a diesel mechanic with pink hair, and be single, if we so desire. Furthermore, if someone hurts us for any of this, it's illegal.
International Women's Day is a day to make noise about. To raise our girls to not only believe they can be who they want to be, but to support the changes in this world that will allow them to be those people. So they can be a respected mum if they want; a world renowned astronaut, or, the true challenge, both.