International Women’s Day
My first thoughts were what does it mean to be a woman in 2020? And why do we have an International Women’s Day (IWD)? Vast and sensitive topic. I am sharing here my own experience and views on the matter.
I have to admit this year was the first time ever I went onto the IWD website.
Why? I am not sure. Is it because I have reached my 40s and started to reflect back on how I have come to be where I am today? Or maybe, as I see teenage girls or young adults, I identify with their energy, positive outlook on life, optimism but at the same time I find them so much more aware, opinionated and decisive than I was at the same age? Could another reason be that I come from a Latin country where women are expected to stick to certain behavioural stereotypes?
The reality is that I never felt the urge to particularly stand up as a woman because I have never let my ‘womanhood’ define who I am.
I have been fortunate enough to be brought up in an environment where your potential was not limited by your gender. You could argue it was a very traditional and strict upbringing by today’s standards but at the same time very matriarchal. That is probably why I would define myself by my beliefs and my values, not my gender. I am not therefore a typical feminist. I do not believe in positive discrimination. Call me naive but I do believe in meritocracy instead. I want women to push boundaries and forge their lives because they have confidence in their talents, skills, abilities, determination – not just because of their gender.
Moving to the UK a little over a decade ago, I had not anticipated that France and the UK would be so apart culturally despite being so close geographically.
Women in the workplace in particular was one of the first things that struck me. British women had already achieved so much more towards equal opportunities and pay than what I had known so far. That also transpired in the family structure. Sharing household chores and childcare were a lot more ubiquitous than in France. I then realised that women in the UK were granted the right to vote almost 20 years before their French counterparts!
The IWD 2020 campaign theme is #EachforEqual.
IWD is a global day celebrating the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women. It first occurred more than a century ago, in 1911.
As a creative myself, I have been particularly interested in looking at the status of women in art. There are countless examples of forgotten female talents. Some had their work wrongly attributed to male contemporaries. Others had their personal lives were wrecked by society and/or partners. Today still, a woman creative who is also a successful entrepreneur is a rarity.
Let’s be honest. We have come a long way since 1911, especially in our Western cultures. I am sharing initiatives celebrating this year’s #IWD that I have particularly enjoyed in subsequent posts. Find accounts of my visits to the Women of World (WOW) festival and Misshapes: the making of Tatty Devine exhibition in the following 2 posts.