Has it really been a year since I last wrote about International Women’s Day in 2009? It seems only yesterday.
If I have to,
I can do anything.
I am strong.
I am invincible.
I am woman.
Every year, we go through this process when we pause for a moment and think about how our lives have been touched one way or another by a woman. It may range from a simple, comforting smile to an entire life changed forever by one woman’s courage or strength or love.
Everyday, we see them walk among us — women just being themselves, doing what they do best — serving and protecting, nurturing and loving, giving and inspiring…
Their selfless acts have become as natural to them as breathing, their show of support as ubiquitous as a tap on one’s shoulder just when you need it.
It’s an overwhelming experience — to be loved selflessly and tirelessly by someone so strong yet so fragile, so sweet yet so dangerous, so innocent yet so knowledgeable. So sensitive yet so strong.
It is precisely these very same contradictions that make women so unique. Whether it’s a mother’s touch, a friend’s embrace or a lover’s kiss — a woman’s inexplicable capacity to take in so much and give the same without losing anything in the process but instead gaining more and giving more is almost magical if not unbelievable.
The love of a woman is fierce — like a double-edged sword too dangerous for the faint of heart and too pure for the opportunistic soul.
Oftentimes, a woman’s capacity for great love is downplayed as nothing more than a dutiful fulfillment of her mission, as if everything she does must have a reason, otherwise she is but a lost soul, whose existence becomes devoid of meaning and purpose.
In truth, she needs no validation nor recognition. She seeks none of those. For to her, everything she does is a labor of love, born of her immense drive to put the other person’s happiness above her own — always. To her, that is reason enough. That is reason itself.
It’s a pity that while we claim that the world has become more tolerant and accepting of women, the exact opposite is true for most of them in many countries.
With the exception of a few Western countries, more and more women in the East suffer in silence in the face of maltreatment and abuse — most times through no fault of their own.
In stark contrast with men, society finds it hard to separate a woman’s achievements and contributions from the personal life she leads. This is probably one of — if not the biggest discrimination women face. When a male political figure commits blunders and unthinkable sins for example, the world easily downplays, forgives and forgets.
But when a woman of the same stature does the same, she is eternally doomed and haunted by past mistakes — never to fully recover from her foibles. It is as if she is not at all allowed to be human.
(Case in point: Bill Clinton vs. Sarah Palin; Tiger Woods vs. Northern Ireland’s Iris Robinson)
I’d like to think that the world, after years of struggling with feminism has changed. But the glaring truth is that it hasn’t changed a bit. It just wants us to believe it has just so we’d stop whining and complaining about it.
International Women’s Day is also a celebration of women achievements. And for this year, I choose to honor a great woman writer, Lualhati Bautista who embodies the strong and stubborn woman who refuses to sit down and take it. Her strength shines through in her writing and her life and works serve as an inspiration to aspiring women writers. Lualhati Bautista — all talent, all woman.
Today, as we celebrate the many ways a woman loves and the many wonderful ways we have benefited from such love, let us not forget the many forgotten women all over the world — unrecognized, abandoned and unloved.
On this day, may God touch them in the night as they fall asleep weeping, may they wake up to a more caring world the next day. May they walk without fear among the crowd. May they speak without reservations of their feelings and fears. May they find comfort in the thought that they are remembered every year.
This is for all the faceless women of the world. One day, all will be rectified. One day, they will get what’s due to them. One day soon.
Today is International Women’s Day. Remember all the wonderful women in your lives. Let them know they are appreciated. Let them know they are loved.