I don’t like to admit this, but I’m not a particularly inspirational woman.
No siree. I’m just your regular, standard, run-of-the-mill, average woman – plodding along with occasional sprinting bouts trying to navigate my way through the day.
I wouldn’t say I’m a bad person, and I do think that my everyday actions, ideas and views help the sexes, but I don’t actively do anything to forward women’s rights. Because although I myself may treat everyone I meet with equality, and absolutely speak out when a sexist comment is made within my vicinity, today, on International Women’s Day, I questioned myself: is that enough?
Should I be doing more to help women? Is it my duty as a woman? For example, should I help those who aren’t able to enjoy the privileges I do because of how their society and culture works? Should I encourage women even more to believe that they are capable of anything any man can do? Yes. In short, yes. I probably should be doing this, I should be more active, but how? I’m not sure where to start, and I’m hoping that the talk I’ll be going to this evening may remedy this.
However, IWD isn’t all about fighting for the rights of women, but to also celebrate and recognise the achievements of women too. By and large, the women I consider inspirational and who I look up to don’t actually play a large, active role in achieving equality – they don’t attend feminist talks, only occasionally attend equal pay protests and they actually rarely speak about the subject of women at all.
Instead, it’s their actions that speak.
My Mum is the most inspirational woman I know. A strong, fiercely independent woman, she will fight anything negative life throws at her and laugh along the way. Guyana born and bred, she has created a life in England owed solely to hard work and graft and has a beautiful outlook on life – to experience it all. From stories of her and her mates drinking their way through the cocktail menu, to attending rock festivals and gigs (sometimes as the only non-white person in sight and not giving a shit), and even moving permanently to England in her early twenties to start a new life, she has inspired and encouraged me to be who I am and to do the things I love (including travelling solo, in which she was the only person who told me to ‘go ahead’ and book my trips without any reservation beyond hoping I wouldn’t get too hurt or killed being stupid).
Through their own hard work, my female friends have also achieved amazing feats. Whether that’s being offered two promotions within weeks of each other in a very male dominated, middle-class company, to writing a book or losing a significant amount of weight and feeling the confidence, my girls are empowering.
But these are the women I know and who know me, the women who have been in my life for years. Yet there’s also the women who don’t know me, and the women I’ve known for only for a few hours. From travelling, I’ve met women who have opened their own hostels, restaurants and charities, women who have volunteered abroad and used their skills in medicine, teaching and business, women who have defied expectations of how they’re supposed to live, women who respond with ‘oh, I’m just doing me,’ when asked about why they aren’t married with children. I’ve met so many women who know and understand themselves, and as a person who is unsure of many things, these women I’ve never met or for only a few hours are invaluable sources of encouragement.
Simply put, there isn’t a woman in my life or on social media that I follow who doesn’t inspire and influence me in some way. They are all gorgeous, intelligent, have beautiful souls and are all accomplishing or working to accomplish what they want. They are regular women with the same shit going on as everyone else, yet their actions and achievements are noteworthy and create a wave. The wave that crashes into the people who surround them either gently or with full force, water fostering positive action for betterment and change in the ones they hit.