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Who Run the World...... International Women's Day

Happy International Women’s Day to you beauties! I am genuinely celebrating this day like a holiday. I guess I was just thinking about what it means to me. This day. What it means to be a woman, in my family, in my sport, and in my profession….. So that is what i’ll be blogging about today.

March 8th…. the day chosen as International Women’s Day. It raises awareness globally on how we continue to strive for gender parity. So this is something I recently learned more about. It is a numerical concept concerning equality related to proportions of males and females. We most commonly see it as a ratio of female to male values…. i.e. Wage gaps. So when we talk about gender equality, the gender parity refers to the equal contribution of women and men to every facet of public and private life. The World Economic Forum’s 2017 Global Gender Gap Report tells us that gender parity is STILL 200 years away.

200 years away!! I mean…. I can’t even comprehend this. How are we this far away? My children's children won't even experience this. Anyway; International Women’s day campaigns constantly and presses for progress (#pressforprogress is the tag… check it out). Don’t forget the #metoo campaign amongst others. So International Women’s Day started in 1911 by the Suffragettes (if you don’t know much about the suffragette movement, just get on google please, like right now). It is the responsibility of every single person to campaign for equality and gender parity. It is not a female battle. It is a human one.

So, now the history lesson is over. I just wanted to talk about what it means to me to be a woman. I am not going to lie. In my early teens, I had a very distorted view of feminism. I didn’t understand it. I saw the radical, anti-men views as extreme and confusing. I still do. I actually think that my view on this was taken from my impression men got of some feminists. I mean, how did a movement about women become about men… AGAIN?? Sometimes that still confuses me. It took a lot of time, growing up, empathy, compassion, struggle and some pain to understand what feminism means to me, and most to women, and it is all about equality. Hate has no place here. Besides through many years of dating, I have realised men of quality do not fear gender equality.

I am from a large family, Scottish-Italians and let me tell you, I have had incredible role models growing up, leading me to be the woman and the feminist I am today. My mum, raised 4 children, worked, and provided such a good childhood that we didn’t want for anything. Being nurtured and cared for, it has such a profound effect on a child’s brain development, they thrive so much better. I am thankful for that. My Dad, no not a female, but encouraged me to read anything and everything, he still does. (He also taught me to take no sh*t, from anyone) This 100% built my character. My Grandma too (who admirably, served in the Women's Royal Navy Service in WW2 - I mean what a role model right there!) read books to me until I could read them back to her, she always told me "reading would make take me places". I feel like I am made up of different parts of the different books I have read over the years. It built my knowledge base, gave me the courage to articulate my thoughts and opinions without fearing arguments, or disagreements, I confidently own what I think. Which is something every woman should feel able to do.

The women in my family are notoriously strong willed, the backbone of the families. They care, nurture, run households, have jobs, degrees, own businesses. This is what I grew up with. Luckily for me, this was normal. In true Scottish-Italian fashion, the women of my family are fierce, verbal, confident and the damn bosses. I absolutely know where I get these traits from. As do all the other female cousins and family members. I have an impressive female family you know!

The most influential person, in my life so far, was a man. My Grandad. Now those of you who know me, know that there is no way I can do this man justice in a blog post. He was simply my most favourite person. He would tell me everyday I was loved. That I could do anything I wanted to, absolutely no matter what the challenge or goal. I never heard a single moment of doubt from him when I would tell him what I would do in my life. Never a “what if…” or “maybe reconsider….” just firm belief in my abilities and determination. He would never ridicule me for dreaming big. He understood that I am pretty fickle and am often unsure of what I want from life sometimes, but he just encouraged me to try everything. My gender was never discussed, he taught me that "I, as a person" can do whatever I want, not "I, as a woman". So I guess, being a woman in my family, means being strong. I was raised to be a strong woman, by strong women AND men.

My friends, well, they are just the most incredible bunch of women and men I know. They are all so different, but one thing they have in common is that they are all so strong, in their own ways. In their own paths in life, they have paved their way, not easily either, they have overcome things that took such strength and bravery. And their presence makes me a better and more compassionate human! To say I wouldn't have survived some things without them, is the understatement of the century. Yes behind every good woman, is her self, but if she is wise, she surrounds herself with those who are likeminded and those she loves!

In my profession… Well, it is a female orientated profession really isn’t it. I work with women, for women. I am there to care, to empower and to advocate. It does still baffle me how some women treat other women though. I have a post pending on obstetric violence. I think sometimes we midwives and doctors forget that we are women too. We conform to the patient-carer roles and all can be a bit guilty of treating each other badly sometimes. The most common problem I come across, that impacts me as a woman in my career, is the “do you have kids” question. From families I care for. Like my reproductive choices have any bloody bearing on my ability to provide care…. It is sometimes like my degree and years of experience is invalid due to my never inhabited uterus. Go figure.

But for the most part, working in a female dominant field is amazing. We are the professionals, we have been doing this for centuries, we are so completely unique and our presence is proven to lower maternal mortality and morbidity rates worldwide. Yeah, i’m proud to have this career and I have worked with and learned from some of the most incredible women ever. Each so very different and their experiences have shaped them in to strong, intelligent women. Which in turn, lead to the women we care for having some of the most positive experiences in their pregnancy journey!

You may have noticed that I also do Crossfit. Yes I love it. Yes I have drank the kool-aid, joined the cult, whatever joke you’d like to insert to explain the fact that I train hard 6 times a week and some of you don't understand it. This sport, has been the making of me in so many ways. Seeing women, really strong, dedicated, fierce women training, succeeding, inspiring really has made me think about what kind of woman I want to be. I see these athletes and whilst being in awe of them, I also think… well if they can, why can’t I? And this mentality seeps out of the gym and in to your daily life too. It has led me to some of the most important relationships in my life, some of the hardest lessons and to the very best of friends! The women I have the pleasure of training with in my squad, in my box, in the crossfit community, they are all absolutely incredible. You would think there was a certain pressure, a competition, to compete with all these women, but in reality, they have only pushed me to compete with myself. I also feel on a level playing field with the guys here. I can deadlift more than some men, do a pistol squat, do a handstand. I feel like it is not a sport defined by gender but more down to individual dedication and commitment to bettering yourself.

I have learned a lot about being a woman since I started crossfit. I have been told “Don’t get too muscly”, “You look too broad”, “Men don’t like women who lift too much weight”. It is mainly my appearance that concerns people most. Heaven forbid you are a woman, with muscle and a man doesn’t like it… oh the shame! Crossfit taught me what my body is capable of. I am finally, after 32 years, becoming more comfortable with my body. Which as a female, is a constant struggle. I am proud of it’s curves, it’s muscle, it’s strength. To me that is being a woman. And now more than ever I am unapologetically confident in who I am and what I bring to the table. What I look like, it really is of little consequence. How I feel about myself, that is paramount. It shines out of women, when they are happy, confident, strong! Crossfit gives me the platform to do these amazing things for myself.

So as you know, I live in the UAE. In Dubai, more specifically. And I get asked a lot by my friends at home, what it is like to be a woman here. To be completely honest…. for me, the difference is not as noticable as you may think. There are some things I struggle with, some patients husbands not talking to me because I am female. Wanting to speak only to a man. My opinion being rendered null and void because again I am a woman. Being told I should be married at my age and have children…… The things that really irk me, such as not being able to be affectionate, to wear what I want (I despise the idea that modesty equals respect, what bullsh*t, respect equals respect), to voice my opinion no matter who is in the room; are all part of a culture I chose to be a part of when I moved here, and as such I am not about to badmouth it. And I have experienced far worse places and treatment due to my gender. My life here, it’s good and I very rarely feel restricted in any way. It is an amazing city, that has allowed me to meet so many women, from so many different places, with different life experiences…. i’m all the richer for being a woman in this place for this part of my life and no, i don’t mean financially.

So, yeah, if you got through all of that waffle…. then well done. I kind of wanted to touch on being a woman in a relationship…. or what passes for them these days, but, thats a very long post that I am not sure I want to write. All I will say, is that I have been pretty lucky in my last few relationships, whatever their definition or ending, I have always had support, to do and say what I want to. To go down the path I chose for myself with someone walking beside me. To dream big and work towards it and to just be me. I’ll say it again… Men of quality do not fear gender equality!

Happy International Women’s Day to you all. Keep your voice heard, keep pushing for progress and celebrate how lucky you are to be a woman in this climate for change…. we really can make the difference!

Nikki xx

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