On the 8th of March, International Women’s Day, when the whole world was celebrating women via programs talking about how it is time that women are given equal pedestal to men in the society or other issues faced by women, I was cynical about why it is only one day which should remind us about the challenges woman face in our societies. I was also cynical about whether the day should be about simply reminding us of the challenges that women face, for example not being treated equal to men, or it should be about everybody being treated equally no matter what their differences of background, sex, culture, colour, race etc could be. Throughout the day I pondered over it and even asked whether what women also needed was womanhood to be celebrated or there is more that was amiss.
That evening which initially looked like any other evening in our household, something happened that clarified for me that woman don’t need a single day in the year celebrating womanhood. Endless boardroom discussions on the new laws or corporate amendments that can be brought into our social framework which allows women to be treated equally is not the solution to the problem that exists in our society which is much more fundamental than that.
That evening, my husband received a text message from the husband of my friend whom I had known for three years. The message was brief, and the intention was to convey that he was getting divorced. Both me and my husband were totally shocked as my friend in the last three years had never given me any inkling about this. It could be because she considered the time that she spent with me in the last three years as a getaway for her to engage in some peaceful and positive conversations instead of reiterating the mess that her marriage was in.
Of course, as any good friends would do, over the next few days in the week, my husband tried to find out the husband’s side of the story and I found out the wife’s side of the story. The intention was not for us to judge who is right or wrong, but for them to analyse and understand what’s right for them. Sometimes what looks big in our head may not be so once we have voiced it out to somebody else.
As I type this post, today is the 14th of March, Mother’s Day in the UK. A day in the year where mothers are celebrated for their selfless love towards their children and for the children to show how much they love and appreciate what their mothers do for them. I spent the day with my family being pampered by my children and husband thanking me for the wonderful mother that I am.
However, my friend who had spent the days between Women’s Day and Mother’s Day on soul searching and trying to find clarity about what is right, this evening she told me that for her children’s safety and sanity of mind, it is probably best that she agrees to get divorced. I heard her voice break when she said that she had tried everything that she could in her twelve years of marriage to make things work and now she just does not know if she had done enough. She felt sad for her children and the future she is going to give them. She started counting out all the things she won’t be able to do for her children as a single parent. She felt lost not only as a woman and wife but also as a mother.
The fact that these two events happened exactly on those days may be a mere coincidence, but it conveys something extremely important. That no matter how many such days we celebrate, they still don’t solve the problems that women and mothers face today.
Fundamental things like expecting dignity from your spouse daily is a non-negotiable necessity that comes with being a human who has been gifted a heart to feel and a brain to mind. Instead of celebrating being a woman or a mother, what we must celebrate are days where we remind ourselves of the values we should imbibe in our lives.
International Kindness Day where we talk about acts of kindness we have done, International Dignity Day where we celebrate those who show respect to their spouse daily, International Bonding Day where the love of parents to their children and vice versa is celebrated.
I think it’s time that we stop thinking that enough is being done by bringing the spotlight on people who are marginalised, and their needs should be discussed but the spotlight is needed on the reasons for which they are victimised. If the world can be turned into a value-based society by us focusing on the values we need to imbibe and celebrating them and therefore reminding ourselves of one such value every month of the year, then we are looking at a world where nobody will end up being a victim.