Happy Woman s Day! Is it just me or does that sound wrong?


The future generation

First: for those who hadn’t spotted it yet: this rhino is a “she”. So, I basically have a sound knowledge of what it means being a woman, stemming from practical experience ranging over…well, many years!

On Twitter, someone suggested to rename Woman’s Day” to “Day of the Condition of Women”: it’s a mouthful, I will grant you that, but at least it has the merit to focus minds on the fact that there’s nothing extremely “Happy” about this day..it’s about women still being disregarded and ill-treated in many parts of the world, and someone thinking it was a good idea to at least ponder on this issue once a year. It’s about have to point something out that should be so obvious in the 21st Century!

This is the reason of my title…but beyond that, I just want to share a few thoughts from a woman that (1) lives in part of the world were inequalities do still exist but are certainly not life-threatening (Brussels) (2) has a great career and job that a lot of blokes would envy (I know: 0 humility on that one) and (3) discovered your view on women changes dramatically when you have a daughter.

I was raised by a stay-at-home mum that had the full-time job of raising four kids whilst moving every 2 years across Africa, South America in the Middle East…and as a child, I kept on thinking: what a lousy job she must have….As a mum myself now, I changed my view to thinking she must have had a tough job, but she certainly did it the best she could.

Growing up, I was struck by the fact that my mum taught my 3 brothers to cook and pretty much do everything a “New man” should be able to do, but when I asked if she could teach me anything behing a furnace (or God behold: sewing on a button), her answer was always the same: study, and make sure you get a job that pays enough for you to be able to pay someone else to do that. And the odd bit was: I actually thought that made a lot of sense!

I built my career so far in the full-knowledge that (1) I was a woman (2) I had every intention of having kids and that at a reasonnably young age, which is considered of very poor taste if you’re a lawyer who has the insane view that you can combine family and career (3) that I’d try to stay polite when for the 100th time someone asks me: “How do you do it?”, a question no one ever seems to ask my husband who does a huge share of the “it” too.

But initially, I didn’t think much of feminism: if you wanted to succeed, you should just do it, regardless of gender and not go into those “gender balance”, “equality”, etc discussions. I don’t want to be equal to a man: I know I’m better anyway :)

But you know what: yes, it is pretty different to try and run a career as a woman than it is as a man, even in our “developped” countries. And yes, the pressures and disparaging looks you get are sometimes heavy to bear (you know that: “oh, your kid sure has been ill a lot” look…or the even better “what: pregnant again?” look). Not to talk about the guilt that seems to be a standard mum feature…and the surprising thing is that burden is often put to you equally by men and women (especially the younger ones)!

So I am now consciously preparing the future of my daughter in a society that still needs to go a long way...and when I kiss her and her brothers good night, I always whisper four things: “you are smart, you are kind and you are beautiful…and I love you to bits”. Because I just know that if each kid in the world had the chance to hear that whisper every night, a lot could be changed…oh: and the fact that my 3 year old girl can manipulate and kick a** her older brothers with such ease certainly made them aware that there’s no such thing as the “weaker sex”!

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