Written By: Dr. Gloria Lee, Registered Psychologist
My mom’s birthday happens to fall on International Women’s Day, March 8. How befitting. When I think about her life journey, she has really paved the way for the women in my family.
Mom is the eldest of 11 children. She grew up in poverty. Because of life circumstances, she was forced to give up her education during elementary school to take care of her younger siblings. Mom worked from a young age to financially support her family who lived in social housing, in a sketchy neighbourhood. Because of her sacrifice, her younger siblings were able to have an education and career.
When Mom got married at 19 and had kids right away (5 girls and 1 boy), she gave up any opportunity for her own career. Instead, she became chief domestic engineer, chef, and chauffer to us 6 kids (7 including my dad). She did everything for everyone, often at her own expense. But I know she did this out of love and care.
It’s because of her selflessness that my siblings and I were able to grow up in Canada, have a good education, live in a peaceful country, and be in a place that offers career opportunities and options for women. I know that I wouldn’t be a psychologist today without her hard work and sacrifice.
Her story is one of many who had given up so much and worked so hard in order to break barriers, fight for gender equality, and pave the way for future generations of girls and women.
So, on International Women’s Day, I reflect (with gratitude) on the countless sacrifices women have made and the obstacles faced throughout history, from discrimination and harassment to unequal pay and limited opportunities for leadership roles. Despite these challenges, women continue to break barriers and pave the way for future generations.
Here are three important reasons why we should all celebrate women on International Women’s Day:
1. Women’s achievements and contributions to society
Women have made significant contributions to society throughout history. From Marie Curie’s ground-breaking work in radioactivity to Malala Yousafzai’s advocacy for girls’ education, women have played a vital role in advancing human knowledge, promoting human rights, and driving social progress.
Celebrating women’s achievements not only recognizes their individual accomplishments, but it also serves as a reminder of the collective contributions that women have made to society. By celebrating women’s achievements, we can inspire future generations of girls to pursue their passions and make their mark on the world.
2. The ongoing struggle for gender equality
Despite the progress that has been made, gender inequality remains a pervasive issue in many parts of the world. Women continue to face discrimination, harassment, and violence in both personal and professional settings.
By celebrating International Women’s Day, we can raise awareness about these issues and the ongoing struggle for gender equality. We can also celebrate the progress that has been made, while acknowledging the work that still needs to be done to ensure that women have equal opportunities and are treated with dignity and respect.
3. Empowerment of women and girls
Celebrating women on International Women’s Day can also serve as a source of empowerment for women and girls. It sends a message that their contributions are valued and that they have a right to pursue their dreams and aspirations.
By empowering women and girls, we can break down barriers and promote gender equality. We can also create a more just and equitable world where everyone has the opportunity to reach their full potential.
By the way, International Women’s Day is NOT just a day for women to celebrate women. It is perhaps even more important and powerful for men, as a sign of solidarity, to celebrate this significant day together with women.
When we ALL recognize and celebrate the essential role that women play in society, we can create a better future for EVERYONE. Let’s celebrate women on International Women’s Day (and everyday) and continue to work towards a more just and equitable world for all.
Happy birthday mom!