Today is a rather significant day. It's International Women's Day. Or at least, it will be when this is posted. I'm writing it early, while I actually have a moment. It started back in the early 1900s, with a group of thousands of women marching in New York City urging for shorter hours, for better pay, and to get the vote. It wasn't until a couple of years later, though, that International Women's Day officially started. But I love this idea that it started on the ground - with strong women. Women making a stand.
Now, I very much realise that I am a guy, talking about IWD. Which seems a bit topsy-turvy. And that's fair enough! But I think it's important that us guys are part of the movement to speak out for women, and to support them and their rights. It shouldn't be solely their responsibility. Why? Because stronger women means a stronger humanity. And a more united humanity. We can be very divided, and divisive, as a species. But when we encourage and support each other - that makes all of us stronger, not just some of us. We all share in that. As such, I'd like to take the opportunity to talk about some of the strong women in my life.
I've had some exceptional female role models over the years, and I know many women that are strong in different ways. (I mean, I have one friend who's in the army - certainly much stronger and braver than me!) There are many different examples that I could give; but for now, I'm going to stick with one. My sister.
For those who don't know, I'm the eldest of four. It went boy-girl-boy-girl. I'm going to be talking about the one that came directly after me, rather than my youngest sister. (Though she's strong in her own way as well.) Firstly in her favour, my sister had to put up with me growing up. And my brother. Though we didn't know it at the time, we bot had Asperger's happening. Then our youngest sister had Down's Syndrome. My sister was the one that stepped up to the plate. People are often surprised when I say that I'm her older brother, because she acts more like an older sister, like she was the first-born. And for good reason! I was off with the fairies most of the time as a kid. I wasn't much of a leader - so she was instead. I wasn't competitive - she was. She was always striving to be the best that she could be, in whatever she pursued - whether it was horse riding, music, Tae Kwon Do (she happens to be a black belt), or at uni. And she really was the best.
My sister was always a doer. Very smart as well, and can talk to you about things just fine - but she's about action, more than talking about it. But that doesn't mean that she doesn't care. Probably the way that I've seen her love most has been in that for her husband - yes, she's now married! - they were together for something like eight years before being engaged. I think that's about right. Maybe nine. Somewhere around there. A long time. Seeing them get married was pretty awesome, just seeing the incredible love that they had for each other, and the excitement around the day. (She'd had some things planned for a while....)
And she's been through some hard times, and difficult things. Some of those I've seen, because we've gone through them together - but most, I haven't. But I see her pushing on, regardless. Maybe I gave her a bit of my stubbornness. Or maybe I got it from her! Who knows.
My sister is one of the strongest people that I know, and I still look up to her so much. Not that I want to be like her, because we're very different people. But I have an immense respect for her, and for what she's done in life, and where she is now. At the same time, though, I could've easily done a similar story for a number of other women in my life - my mum (who is easily the other strongest person I know), many of the women that I know from church, Bible college, family friends, and many others - people who have gone through so much, and done so much, and who are so much. And I don't really have good words for that. But thank you, all of you. You have helped me incredibly in my life, in so many ways that you can't even imagine.
I find it strange that there are places where women are considered less than men, in any sense. They'll often work harder, putting in more of their own time. They care more. They often put more time and energy into their families. They have to go through more insults, more rubbish, more - everything that they just shouldn't have to go through. That really shouldn't happen in today's world, but it still does. And they stand up for themselves, and are a voice of reason, often so much more. By any logic that I can come up with, that means that they should be worth...er....oh, that's it, more! Not less. That's just absurd. Let's change the dynamic. Let's #PressforProgress. Moving towards a world and a time where women are celebrated, and treated with the respect, love, care, and admiration that they deserve. And the pay, folks.