How will you mark International Women’s Day this year?
For me, the greatest influence begins at home
As long as I can remember, my family has always celebrated International Women’s Day. Every March 8, my father would give my mother a beautiful bouquet of flowers. It started when they first got married before my sister and I were born and has continued to this day. I asked my father once why this particular day was so special that he wanted to honour it with a gift to my mother.
He said it was his way of showing how much he loved, supported and respected my mother and the way she was raising my sister and me to be strong, independent, resourceful women. He felt it was important to mark the occasion of International Women’s Day with a symbolic gesture in celebration of an important event.
Perhaps because he was raised in a female-led household (with just his mom and sister as his father died during World War II) my father has always believed that women are equal and deserving of the same rights, responsibilities and rewards as men. In all the interactions I’ve witnessed my father has had with other people – men and women from all backgrounds and walks of life – I’ve always been struck how respectful, kind, friendly and fair he’s been, without fail.
I realize how lucky I am to have been raised in a family where both my parents believed that two little girls could do anything they dared to dream. They encouraged us to pursue our goals and not let obstacles or challenges deter us. They taught us the importance of giving back to our community and to pay it forward with the same respect that they showed each other and us. Although not perfect, I believe my parents taught my sister and I well.
So in thinking about this year’s International Women’s Day, an annual day when people the world over come together to focus on women’s issues and achievements, it may seem overwhelming to think what one person can possibly do to advance women’s rights towards a more balanced society with 50/50 equality. That’s an ambitious goal! For me, as it’s always been, the road to equality begins at home.
As much as we should change laws, institutions, pay and workplace culture (and we should) the one thing each one of us can do most easily begins at home within our immediate family. When my son was born years ago, I knew I wanted to raise a good man who valued all people as equals. I wanted to raise a man like my father who shared his traits of kindness, compassion and empathy. As I look at my son today, fully grown and starting his career, I feel immense pride for the man he has become.
And I realize that of life’s greatest accomplishments and greatest area of influence, it rests within one’s own family and immediate circle. That’s where the most impact and positive change can occur. And if you do it right, the ripple effect grows bigger and stronger.
So I wish each of you a happy International Women’s Day. Take the time to celebrate the women in your life and remind yourself how each one of us can influence and support those closest to us and in turn, support all of us.
Happy International Women’s Day! What does International Women’s Day mean to you? Tweet me @NatashaNKPR or leave a comment below.