Unpacking the many roles of women – and how to truly salute them
The essence of womanhood is being multi-dimensional. Through the course of their lifetime, they juggle the roles of child, partner, wife, mother, administrator, career builder, organizer, teacher, economist, disciplinarian, protector and procreator of the human race. To incorporate these roles or the ones they choose, they need to have a strong sense of identity, accept that their body will metamorphosis, change and adapt. At their core they must possess mental acuity, build a robust support system, not be afraid to seek help, while remaining hungry for continuous growth.
True inclusion, gender equality and the constant tussle between femininity and societal perceptions are always hovering around the edges of these conversations. Definitions keep changing over time, since biology is an integral part of women’s lifespan. Biology plays a fundamental role from their reproductive system to their overall health and wellbeing. From menstruation at an early age which sets them on the path to reproduction, to pregnancy - a complex, unique and amazing process that involves not just hormonal and physical changes to the body but the production of a fetus, to menopause in the later years that can influence mood swings, energy level and a range of health issues – women face many challenges.
The time is now
Historically women have been seen broadly in the following roles. Caregivers, often expected to take over the primary responsibility of caring for children, elderly relatives and other family members. Educators, long involved in teaching, nurturing the next generation as formal educators, mentors and role models. Workers, contributing to the economy in multiple capacity while balancing domestic responsibility. As Community leaders, women have begun playing important roles in local and national politics as well as in non-governmental organizations and social movements. In the most noteworthy role, as Innovators, they have made significant contributors to science, technology, art, culture, while challenging stereotypes and pushing boundaries. In short, women have displayed the potential to be “multiple selves”.
Ironically, in recent decades femininity has evolved with new visions emerging while remaining rooted in patriarchal norms that continue to weigh and restrict. Even as women change at the speed of lightening, the rest of humankind remains a step behind. Adding further impediments is the harsh reality that for women, opportunities vary greatly depending on factors such as geography, ethnicity, race and class.
This year’s theme for International Women’s Day is DigitALL: Innovation & Technology for gender equality. Enunciating that #EmbraceEquity, 2023 focuses on how gender equity needs to be part of every society’s DNA: “It’s crucial to understand the difference between equity and equality. The aim of the IWD 2023 #EmbraceEquity campaign theme is to get the world talking about why equal opportunities aren’t enough. People start from different places, so true inclusion and belonging require equitable action. We need to find more creative solutions to include women in technology as well employ more innovative means to meet women’s needs and promote gender equality, to bridge their lack of inclusion. This is further hampered by the statistics that even though women make up more than half the world’s population, 37% of them do not use the internet, which amounts to 259 million fewer women having access to Internet than men – cutting off access to strong technological integration.
In summary, though generally speaking women today have increased representation in various fields including politics, science, business & the arts as they challenge stereotypes and break down barriers, there is a long way to go. Women still face significant discrimination at workplace, unequal access to opportunity and resources and often bear the brunt of domestic responsibility and caregiving. Overall, the report card is one of both progress and persistent challenges. There is so much work to be done to achieve full gender equality and empowerment for women.
I would love your feedback - do you agree that women are celebrated, valued and heard? Should we adhere to the gold standard that building a sustainable future for all means not leaving half of the population of the world behind? And most significantly, isn’t women’s full and equal participation in all facets of society a fundamental human right? What steps can we take to ensure equity and inclusion?
We are stronger together