Julian and I were recently engaged in a heated discussion with someone that hinged on the role of personal responsibility in the fight against that three-headed monster consumerism-global poverty-environmental degradation. Our friend took a rather defeatist attitude – people will never change, so why try to change people. We took a more proactive stance. We do not want and cannot presume to change anyone else. But we can change ourselves. Our small contribution to the eradication of social and environmental injustice is to make responsible choices in our lives and to raise our children to be responsible in their choices. We are one small family whose consumer and lifestyle choices are influenced by our social and environmental consciousness and philosophy. But we are not alone. Every day in millions of homes throughout the world individuals and families take responsibility for their consumer choices, starting from places of optimism and a belief that one person, one family, can make a difference.
So it was, as International Women’s Day approached, I thought about the power of the individual or of the family to bring into being a just and fair world for all, irrespective of gender.
I am a privileged woman. I was raised by parents for whom my gender was no barrier to anything I chose to do. I have lived a life of my choosing. I chose how much education I wanted, and what jobs I wanted; I chose who and when to marry and I chose when and how many children to have. With such great privilege comes responsibility. I cannot change the world. I cannot erase sexism or violence against women or unequal pay or lack of choice or poverty. But I can make responsible choices in how I talk about and to other people and how I interact with other people – both men and women. I can make responsible choices about what I buy and what I do. With my husband, I am striving to raise two women to know that their gender is no barrier to their aspirations, but by their choices and actions they can further contribute to the eradication of gender-based inequality and injustice.
The girls and I have been in Ireland since Wednesday and I’ve been spending a lot of time with some of the amazing women in my life – my mother, sister, nana, cousin, aunts and friends. There’s been a lot of laughter; we’ve drunk a lot of tea. Last night I went out with two friends who I’ve known since we were all four years old. In their early 40s, one is about to have her first baby and the other is about to complete her first degree. We met other old school friends when we were out – strong, sassy, opinionated women, and I felt really proud to be part of that tribe!!
Wishing you all a very Happy International Women’s Day – appreciate the women in your life; celebrate being a woman, or knowing a woman; and think about what small steps you can take to eradicate gender-based inequality and injustice. xx