Happy International Women's Day!
This morning I read social media posts of women and men around the world recognising International Women's Day. Some posted poems, shared pictures of women's suffragists, scientists, women in business; some posted "rants" and snap shots of men's sexist behaviour in male dominated industries and how it's not enough for women to call out men, but men also need to hold each other accountable for sexist behaviour (to be honest women are more likely to police each other than men are). Today, in 2018, there's no better time to be a woman, and in my case there is no better time to be a female entrepreneur living in the most exciting region of the world where there is plethora of opportunity.
What millennial feminists can learn from feminists of the past
When I was studying in Israel I took a class on Zionism Ideology & Gender, and learned about the early feminist movements and programs that would "free women of their motherly duties" in the Kibbutzim, to women playing an active role in the agricultural movements, health care, business, and politics. The primary problem with many of these women, like most women face today, is trying to have it all: career, happy marriage, be a devoted mother, maintain independent identity, and financial freedom. Once women in these movements were freed from their "motherly duties", many were unhappy. Today, this same problem persists: women are more educated then ever, have financial independence, own their own properties, but now cannot find quality partners or wait too long to have children, and end up unhappy or unfulfilled (not that marriage and children are the goals for every woman, but there is more to life than one's career, in many cases creating a family) . For those that appear to be happy and "have it all" are either wealthy or upper middle class (can hire help, met a partner that makes as much money or money than them), never marry, or never have kids (or both), and for women that have achieved very successful careers, like Golda Meir (first and only female prime minister of Israel who was also married and had children), other aspects of their personal lives suffered. What feminists and women are going through today, is nothing new. We just have the internet to voice and share our stories.
Now I'm all for women's rights, but there really needs to be a different approach. And one example is women embracing their femininity and using a "female approach" to enact change. What does that mean? For example, one research paper I wrote was on Hannah Maisel, a pioneer in the agricultural movement in the early 20th century who wanted women in Israel to play a more active role in farming. She used a "female approach" and found a way for women (mothers, wives, poor working women, female students) to perform their motherly/ wifely duties (working at home and managing a garden, chickens, while looking after the children), gained support from men (conservative, religious, and in the political establishment), and gained funding from wealthy women and female organisations (WIZO, Hadassanah) to fund her agricultural school that educated poor and working class women to learn the basics of farming. Essentially, she recognised that men and women have different strengths, have different roles in agriculture, and built bridges between wealthy and working class women to meet the overall goal: for women to play a role in nation building. Maisel, was PhD educated and married women (with no kids), that was able to achieve her goal by essentially not disrupting the male establishment while empowering women.
We need a new approach
Feminist today, we need to build bridges, we need men's support (and also educate men), and create opportunities for each other (create our own companies and organisations that benefit and/or compliment women who are mothers, wives, single moms, students, and working class women), and in traditional societies we need to simultaneously empower poor and working class women while educating boys and men, as men from these societies feel that their status is threaten by "western ideas of equality" and only takes away their power or status (I will get more into this in another post). So my feminist friends out there, I dare you on Women's International Day, to take a different approach for ALL women (class, religion, and ethnicity), to achieve equality.
As always, thank you for reading!