Girls Like You
Blogging about International Women’s Day has become almost tradition at this point. You may think it odd that I continue to celebrate this day every year though it’s not considered an international holiday. But every year, International Women’s Day exemplifies the importance of positive reinforcement for young girls. Whenever I browse social media on March 8th, I’m always flooded with stories about strong women I can aspire to be or shown stories of the women who’ve fought for the rest of us to have made it so far. I’m also shown ways of helping others, whether that be through the UN Women’s social media pages, or Plan International or Amnesty International, I see a way of helping women who aren’t as fortunate as I am. But the most prominent feeling I get from International Women’s Day every year is that women deserve to feel valued and that by lifting each other up we can all feel stronger. Cheesy, but true.
This International Women’s Day I’m celebrating the women in my life. Whether that be friends I’ve grown up with through school, friends I’ve met through sports, friends I’ve gained through musical theatre, friends I’ve met more recently at University or the incredible women I’m surrounded by in my family. I’ve never felt limited by any of them, and all I’ve ever received is support. Support to push beyond the boundaries that may sometimes be in my way, and support to continue through those boundaries when there’s no way around them.
This International Women’s Day I want to thank the women who’ve had my back (and held my hair). To my friends, who I see every day being sensational young women and forging paths for themselves. To my family, who’ve shown me ways of being an amazing woman, regardless of whether they’re older than me or not. And to the women I see in the media punching through stereotypes and fighting even when it seems impossible. Thank you.
It’s not the perfect time to be a woman in today’s age; between the fight for reproductive rights, the fight for an equal place at the table, the fight to have the choice who to marry and when and the fight against the stereotypes, it’s still a tough world. But it used to be far, far tougher and we can’t deny that some things are better. Young girls are able to open a magazine and see people like Ashely Graham or Iskra Lawrence looking like their body type and having it be celebrated. Others are looking at entertainment and seeing that they are so much more than the stereotype that have thrust upon them because of the colour of their skin. Others are realising that they weren’t born to be in the body they have and understanding that that’s okay. Some are realising that they get to love whomever they want to love, and it’s a brilliant thing. Young women and women everywhere are beginning to see their value, because there are more outlets showcasing every kind of woman. So yeah, being a woman’s still not perfect, but at least women are understanding that they deserve the perfect rights.
International Women’s Day began on February 28, 1909 when the Socialist Party of America organised a women’s day in New York, with the International Socialist Woman’s Conference suggesting a Women’s Day be held annually. March 8th was introduced by the Soviet Union in 1917 when women gained suffrage and the date became a national holiday, later being adopted as the international date for Women’s Day in 1975 by the United Nations. To reiterate what I say every year, today isn’t a day for bashing men – I’d actually like to celebrate my Dad and my brother for always encouraging me to be me and be the best person I can be. Today is a day to celebrate the women in our history who have shaped the world when it was deemed impossible for them to do so.
Mary Kom, an Indian boxer once said, “Do not say you are weak, because you are a woman”. Don’t limit yourself because of your gender; sex is biological, gender is a social construct. The stereotypes placed on women have been placed there by the men and women of the past. Think – a century ago women weren’t allowed to vote in elections because ‘common sense’ deemed that women were incapable of making sound decisions without the aid of a man. The world has seen a fair share of female political leaders since then. Women who’ve changed the world in some way, or at least changed the world’s perception of what it is to be a woman. Being born a woman ought not limit anyone, and I’ll be damned if the young women growing up in this century think less of themselves because of the sex on their birth certificate.
Whether you were born a woman or discovered later in life you should have always been a woman, you count. You are more than the limits the world will often put on you.
You count, you mean something, and I can’t wait to see you change the history books.
By Tirion Davies