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Posts from the ‘gender equality’ Category

International Woman’s Day: history gets revised

Since the International Woman’s Day March 8, resonates with Me too and Time’s up movements in North America recently, this day has become more visible and more important by now.

It wasn’t actually this way before. I have been writing March 8 articles every year, and they quite often didn’t get much response. I believe it is because the day as such did not feel very important for many women or they associated it only with socialism and political movements, thus, it wasn’t widely popular.

While general articles mention North American and British suffragist movements as origin of this day, it is not entirely true. It is quite visible that the contribution of women fighters for female equality, such as Clara Zetkin, Inessa Armand, Alexandra Kollontai, the first soviet woman ambassador, and Nadezhda Krupskaya, Soviet Union’s Deputy Minister of Education and women’s rights advocate has actually not been acknowledged globally. I would think it is because they were all socialists, to some extent representing communism, and it is assumed that nothing good came out of all this movement and their personal fights. They actually addressed issues such as sexuality, abortion, marriage, divorce, morality, sexual relations between genders, family relationships, motherhood and role of mother, getting rid of male dominance in any area of life and physical abuse about 100 years ago in Russia and Western Europe at a time when nobody dared even to speak out about these issues. One has to remember that the state of education wasn’t really the same what it is right now, in 2018. Only the richest women would be able to obtain good education and it was rare they would have important political and executive positions, hence woman’s role was mostly understood as the one of a family member and mother.

The United Nations began celebrating International Woman’s Day on March 8 only in 1975.

This day was celebrated always in former Soviet Union as far as I can remember, and I am 60 this year. To me and many soviet era women from former soviet republics this day felt as one of the most wonderful days in the entire year. White and pink tulips, bright yellow daffodils and mimosa, as well as any early spring flowers were given to every woman. It was always celebration of a woman. This tradition continues in the independent Republic of Latvia, and it still goes very strongly.

What are the achievements due to the highly recognized role of a woman during the soviet and post-soviet era? There are actually many, although, we do not want to admit that. First of all, it was free education for everybody from the nursery school to the University. I had only excellent grades also while studying at the University, so, the government actually paid me monthly which was a huge financial aid. That means that the higher education was not only free, but also promoted in any possible way. The female dominance in higher education was absurd. I was studying foreign languages, and among students of many departments there were just very few male students with about 90% being female. This sounds crazy, and so it was. Male students would be choosing the Technical University and similar establishments, but still at a much lesser rate.

The aspect that was definitely promoted was female participation, equality and recognition of female achievements. It went way beyond that.

The period after the World War II was dominated by women in Latvia. First of all, there were more women who survived the war, and secondly, more women were well-educated. It went way too far in regard that women lost their female side and became work heroes: woman, the tractor driver and heavy machinery operator, the “rifle woman”, woman, the chair of an industrial plant who deals exclusively with work matters, denies make-up and fashion, denies any weaknesses and puts their political and social role above anything.

People who have seen the great movie of that era: Office Romance by Eldar Ryazanov (1977) certainly can recall the boss Ludmila Kalugina who is described by her subordinate employee as “dry, heartless and inhuman”. The actress portrays this image extremely well. Although, she is a very successful at work and managing the Statistics Bureau, she has lost absolutely all female attraction, she wears terrible, old fashioned clothes, her hair isn’t done and she looks at least 15 years older than her actual age. She is single. During this comedy, she gets transformed into a very attractive woman who has it all: excellent work position, beauty, love and family.

Office Romance, part 1 with translated subtitles

This image realistically depicts the overworked woman who neglects all other aspects of her life, and, therefore, she is single and replaces love and family with reading scientific literature and watching TV. The movie had huge success because it was true. Lots of women were so much in work and they had such highly responsible positions that there was no time or opportunity for them to address personal matters and their personal life.

Office Romance, part 2 with translated subtitles

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The scientific sector is dominated by women in Latvia: it is at 51% which is the highest rating among all European Union countries. It is not surprising, because traditionally and historically women have always been at the top due to excellent education, devotion and intelligence in Latvia. I mean, while living in Latvia I never felt any restrictions, any discrimination to me as a woman. It was, in fact, the opposite: starting with elementary school and ending with University, my success was always much acknowledged and I was always sitting in the first row when students were receiving yearly awards for state competitions in essay writing, geography, math, physics, foreign languages and visual art. Latvian women have also always been socially very active. It is pretty well-known that the Canadian Latvian Vaira Vike-Freiberga became a president of the Latvian Republic not that long ago.

 

The list of women high-achievers in Latvia would be very long and large. I suppose the roots and origins of female dominance in such countries as Latvia is somewhat historically and traditionally related to our life style and way of thinking. Latvian women have been and still are extremely independent and mentally strong.

I do miss a lot of that Latvian free spirit here in Canada. I’ve become invisible and I do not enjoy the social recognition I had back there. Well, I am kind of newcomer to Canada also, and I have been here for only 14 years yet. Ones efforts become much diluted in such a big place like Canada, and I feel that anything I do goes unnoticed to a big extent.

Well, this day is referred to in Latvia as simply Women’s Day, and it is celebrated in every family, at any workplace, at every school and at every office. It is a beautiful tradition which comes with spring flowers and feeling that spring and woman are synonyms.

This is a contribution to all women who are trying to be and feel equal in any walk of life. You certainly deserve all the most beautiful spring flowers that exist!

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The happy women come from a place called appreciation, respect and love

March 8th is my most favorite spring day and celebration. Not in a political and feminine rights way, but in the way which says that every woman has to experience some time how beautiful, loved and appreciated she is. Bring me tulips and daffodils; bring me wild anemones with their blue smiley faces, bring all the spring flowers so that I can be proud and happy once again that spring has arrived and I am so happy to be a woman! I always was, and I could imagine not being a woman ever.

I believe self-aware, self-confident, mentally strong and creative women come from families where the feminine side is greatly appreciated. Where helping with each step and idea is always supported by the masculine strength; where the stability and long-lasting genuine love is the basis of a relationship. I happen to have a fantastic family. My mom is always the soul and my dad always was the responsible and supporting part of our family. My husband is everything I could wish for: not only in what he says, but especially in what he does.

Real appreciation and love mean fixing one’s broken wings so that they can fly again, that means being a shelter in a rainy and stormy day since we rarely have only unshaded and undisturbed sun flowing over us. That might mean creating and giving someone completely new wings when the old ones are not any longer repairable.

Women can do everything, they can wear everything and they can be anything they want in 21stcentury. The only chains we put on ourselves are our inability to leave abusive workplace, abusive relationship and abusive partner.  We sometimes overdo with equality and that can harm us. The echo and the response are based on what we do and say. Allowing humiliating one means giving more power to the abuser.  It can be very tough at times to just pack and walk away since there is always hope that we can fix anything, and that is not true. There are people who will never change, never improve and never love anybody else, but themselves.

No money can buy genuine love, honest appreciation and respect. We have to earn respect and respectful attitude by being confident and persistent with our principles, choices and intentions.

I don’t see why in places like Canada women would need to march for their rights: we are entitled to have any job, any position, to live as and where we wish. We have rights to have and express our opinions. Women’s right are really well present here.

In soviet times, it was strongly emphasized that there should be no difference made between men and women, hence, that is discrimination. This was understood or rather misunderstood as women drinking Vodka from large 200 g glasses in line with men, women riding tractors and heavy machinery and smoking and swearing like the roughest men. Women construction workers with a Vodka bottle and hammer in their hands. That picture was sad, and I can recall some images of those so-called very masculine women who had drunk themselves to the bottom. Lots of that has changed by now, but alcoholism among women remains a big issue around the world since it often takes hidden forms. Some addictions are much more difficult to cure in women than in men, and medications do not actually work the same way, too.

Woman’s DNA is completely different, and the life-long program set by the female DNA and epigenetic factors result in many distinctive body and mind processes throughout the life. That does not mean only the genetic inheritance, but also includes all chemical reactions, hormone activity and inactivity periods; how and when genes are turned off and on. That shows in appearance, skin and bone structure, specific features of body systems, etc. There are lots and lots of physical distinctions which definitely have impact on mental processes, as well. However, it is well overdone nowadays just by making only the apparent distinctions important: woman is so much more than a dress, make-up and high heels.

Woman is the muse, the flight of thought, the germination of idea and the continuation of human race. Woman is a witch and a goddess, woman is a mother and a daughter, and woman is the one who keeps fairy-tales alive by telling them through thousands of years. Woman is the wise great-grandmother who has seen it all. Woman is the intuition and inspiration; she is the one who puts flowers in a vase while her husband takes home the daily bread. Old-fashioned point of view? Maybe, but it has proven to be working so well.

I wish every single woman experienced some time how appreciated and loved she is! I certainly have. I’m also very proud and happy to be a woman. Happy International Women’s Day!

I wish you love, appreciation and strength on March 8, the International Women’s Day

This day is permanently associated with the most beautiful spring celebration in my memories. It always was and still is widely celebrated in Latvia, Europe. Unfortunately, we inherited this great day from the former Soviet Union; it was a part of socialist understanding of praising women’s role and importance in the society. Well, it was supposed to be like that, but March 8 got transformed into a really festive day when every single woman was feeling happy, admired, appreciated and loved.

International Women's Day flowers 5

It’s hard to say what I understood with March 8 as a kid, but I certainly was happy to receive beautiful spring flowers on this day every year in my life until I moved to Canada. What’s celebrated here? Valentine’s Day and Mother’s Day, and we have begun hearing about the International Women’s Day, as well, but as a part of movement for women’s equality and as a part of feminists’ attempts to get society to understand how strong and valuable women are. Valentine’s Day never took off in Latvia, not to the extent it is celebrated in Canada, and Mother’s Day is a very personal day, so, yes, I am still for March 8, the most beautiful and democratic celebration of every single woman, whether married or not, whether with kids or not, whether famous, or not. Every woman who feels like a woman and is happy about that.

International Women's Day  beautiful daffodils

This day, March 8 never carried this feminist meaning for me. I’ve always been very happy as a woman because I am a woman, and would say this is thanks to the type of family I could grow up. My dad was an extremely handsome man, and my mom still is an extremely feminine woman who always paid a lot of attention to housekeeping, the way she looks, the way she dresses, the way she interacts with other people, although, she had to work hard and long hours. I could see that a real woman does not have to be like a man to show her strength and ability to perform complex and sometimes difficult tasks. A woman does not have to demonstrate she can survive well without support of a man and a husband.

I believe the happiest women have always experienced lots of respect, lots of admiration, lots of understanding. I know that I have. Women can be strong, and there’s nothing actually they cannot manage. However, if you would like to be respected and celebrated as a woman, you have to allow the society and other people to respect and understand you. If you push away a man who’s holding the door open, if you kick out of your way somebody who’s trying to give you a hand, that does not mean they think you are weak and couldn’t do it on your own. That means they want to show you their appreciation for a woman.

International Women's Day carnation flowers

When I was 12, I got a fashion magazine which was published by Aenne Burda edition in Germany. I spoke also German at that age, and I had learned sewing, so this was my most favorite magazine, it was just extremely difficult to get, just like everything else from abroad. There was a picture on the back cover of this Burda fashion magazine: family at breakfast. It looked like spring. There were 2 neatly dressed kids, the man was ok, but nothing special, and there was this woman. She was slim, seemed to be quite tall with long blonde hair and oval, very attractive face. She looked adorable! I absorbed this look, and I told to myself: when I get old and older I want to look just like her! Well, and I sort of always was since I had never any weight problems, my natural hair was always blonde, and later I kept it that color. However, the most important message was under the picture. It read: WE WOULD LOVE THAT EVERY WOMAN EXPERIENCES HOW BEAUTIFUL AND ADORABLE SHE IS. I certainly remembered these words, too.

International Women's Day 7

I have had fantastic moments and extremely bad moments in my life since, but whenever I was walking down the street or whenever I was at some kind of event or party, and I got those looks which said: oh, you look so nice, I always cited these words in my head: WE WOULD LOVE THAT EVERY WOMAN EXPERIENCES HOW BEAUTIFUL AND ADORABLE SHE IS.

However, wearing a nice dress and high heels, as well as, being able to show off feminine body forms does not make woman a woman. There is so much more, a complete feminine universe, a brave way of thinking, a unique ability to handle and manage things and people. Every woman is different, and it is good that way, however, they all should feel appreciated and respected for what they do and what they are.

International Woman's Day hugs and greetings

Thankfully, life gave me plenty of chances to experience how appreciated I am as a woman. I wish you the same and more and I am sending you hugs and flowers on March 8!

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