Candi at Looking For Blue Sky has written why she doesn't like International Women's Day. You can read her post HERE. She ends with the words:
"Don't get me wrong: I love my children more than life itself. I just don't love the way that society views me now that I am a mother. And until that changes, International Women's Day is pretty meaningless."
I started a comment in reply to Candi but my thoughts on this subject need their own space. So here they are.
Men don't need to fight for equality in the workplace. There is no cause, fight, or issue with men in the workplace. I don't think there is much of an issue either for women who don't have children. Except in religion (don't get me started), women who are free to devote as much time to their careers as men have pretty much arrived in the boardroom.
The issues, therefore, are about childcare. There's also the care of elderly parents to some extent, so perhaps the issue is about the role of carer in any family. It doesn't matter which adult in the family is the carer - a mother, a father, a grandparent or a hired nanny/housekeeper. The point is that there needs to be a carer and that has traditionally, and obviously, been the woman.
The facts of lower infant mortality, family planning, and washing machines free up the modern woman to the extent that she can go out to work and have a fulfilling career. If the family has alternative 'carer' arrangements there's no conflict. But modern medicine and technology don't negate the need for a designated carer in the family. By definition, the primary carer needs to be available for family stuff.
I agree that girls should be educated as much as boys, for whatever role they choose as adults. And I believe they should have the choice. I agree that once a woman has chosen the career track and, if she has children, her family has an alternative carer, then she should have equal opportunities and remuneration at work. I agree we should celebrate that women have these choices when for so many centuries they did not.
I don't agree that society looks down on mothers. Who is this 'society'? Society is made up of many sub-groups and the one I would most like to identify with at this stage in my life - the homemakers, mothers, and carers' society - most certainly does not look down on me for being a mother. In fact, I used to feel looked down upon for not being a mother (before I was one) far more than I do now for having a job rather than running a department.
As a single mother this means I have given up on a lot of material things but I am not less, I am more for finding the joy in free entertainment and simple food. My place in society is not defined by my spending power. You can contribute plenty in non-monetary ways.
However, I would not say that society looks down on women without children. I would say that your personal vulnerability and ambition dictates how you see yourself in the eyes of 'society'.
I never had big ambitions to conquer the world. I only ever wanted to be a mother and a homemaker. I have a circle of friends who enjoy and take pride in being the carers rather than the careers in their families. Most of them also work, many in high-powered careers but with the restrictions that go with being the family carer. And those of them who are lucky enough not to have to work for a salary, contribute loads by way of voluntary work and have much to be proud of.
You can feel victimised in this role or you can relish it. It's not about how society views you, it's about how you view yourself. If a group of corporate big-wigs look down on you so what? Society isn't only those in the boardroom. Society is also the mothers, the teachers, the grandparents, the nurses, the shopkeepers, and the carers.
International Women's Day isn't just about smashing the glass ceiling. We can also celebrate the power, for example, of the homemaker bloggers (mostly women) who have knocked the consumer world sideways with their online outreach and influence. We can celebrate women's business initiatives in the developing world that utilise the power of women to educate their children and raise their families out of poverty. I personally celebrate single mothers who have chosen to be included in the society of families even though they were not lucky enough find their life partner.
I love being a woman in 2013 and this is why I celebrate International Women's Day.