#ChooseToChallenge is the theme for 2021 IWD,
it’s about raising your hand to call out inequality for women.
Of course, inequality sounds less impactful, less profound than the reality that exists for millions of women and girls around the world. To not be equal can simply mean just a bit less than something else when compared side by side. Not as full, not as heavy, smaller, shorter, quieter………
My question is this: when did different become the measurement for inequality? Has it always been thus?
For me, International Women’s Day has represented a time for celebrating achievements or outstanding individuals who are recognised in making a difference when it comes to women. And by this, I mean it’s been more about the events than the cause.
Don’t get me wrong, everything helps I guess, but the whole point of IWD should be the universal improvement in the lives of women and girls who experience a very different life than those of us who live and grow up in a country that affords us a great life with freedom. The fortunate reality is that almost all of us in Australia – like many western countries, will never know what its like to be truly less than another human. Specifically, I am talking about gender, not about any other diversity within the diversity. I accept and acknowledge that there are many being discriminated against for entirely unfounded and inexcusable reasons other than gender or within a gender, but on this occasion the topic is IWD.
I feel I have a responsibility as an employer and a civic leader to lead by example in most things, to provide a safe and fair work environment and to champion the rights of those who don’t have a voice. But I don’t seek out one gender or define by race or skin colour those who need help or not. No two people are the same just as no two problems are the same. It’s how I was brought up to view the world and it’s how I hope to influence my own family – I’m the very proud aunty of 2 young nieces and a very young nephew.
My family life is from a traditional Greek background, our culture was very important, and my parents fought hard to keep the language and traditions alive, but some things were very different for me than many of my Greek female friends. My father never set me boundaries for my hopes and dreams. He never defined me by girl first human second. The same was not provided for my brother. Is that equal?
There are people who think that gender defines many things, that it can determine your value and worth.
These definitions are unfortunately alive and thriving in every culture in every country, and the smaller our globe gets the more a light is shone on these dark places. But more needs to be done than just uncovering them. More needs to be openly talked about, more people need to know about how other people are being treated. That means more men and women. In case nobody has noticed, it will take more than just women to speak up.
This brings me to my original question: when did different become the measurement for inequality? Who decided that a girl’s life, a women’s career, her right to vote, to have equal pay for equal work was to be measured solely against the other human but different gender? I worked side by side with my brother, as did my mother and father. No one was worth more or less; I was the youngest but did the same amount of work as the eldest. I was the smallest but did as much as those bigger. I was the loudest though. Hard to top that.
You would think that my life experience would be exactly what was needed to make an environment that is unequal shift, wouldn’t you? For a long time, it didn’t. It didn’t because I just assumed it was the same for everyone else. I assumed that others were valued on their own merits and effort, that you were supported as needed, loved unconditionally and respected regardless of gender. I was wrong.
We have much work to do us Cumans,
mostly On ourselves though. Just my view.
It’s the individual who will shift to make change. The individual who will draw a line in the sand, choose to do and say something else other than what has come before. Then it will be the many, the most not the few. It will be the shorter ones who will become the giants, the quiet ones who will roar and the different will be celebrated because we humans will discover we are not so different after all.