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  • The Awakening of a Woman: A Blessing or Double-Edged Sword? The Awakening of a Woman: A Blessing or Double-Edged Sword?

    “The Awakening of a Woman: A Blessing or Double-Edged Sword?”

    Every year’s International Woman’s Day has a unique context, and yesterday’s was no different. These are strange times indeed. Conflict across the world appears to have envied the pandemic’s murderous spree, and sought to replace it as our primary cause of worry.

    And every time this happens, every time arms are raised, every time unnecessary wars are provoked for political gain, it seems that the fate of women is forgotten.

    How reassuring it felt, yesterday, to note that this time around, women and men are refusing to forget.

    This March 8th, not only were the horrors that happen to women across the world (such as gender-based violence) condemned, the unacceptability of seemingly banal injustices, like exploited gender roles, was raised.

    Our glasses are no longer half-empty.

    Still, what a journey!

    Beyond the daily threats that being a woman can entail, there is something much more insidious: a glass cage that stifles our potential and forces disproportionate levels of responsibility onto us.

    Women are frequently asked how they “do it all”.

    Well, they cannot, and neither should they.

    Women were never cast for the part of “Doer of all.”

    This Women’s Month, shall we reflect on how to alleviate the load of women?
    After all, the sun cannot shine everywhere at once; a worthy ally, the moon, welcomes the day’s rest.

    What does it mean to be a woman?

    A woman gives, protects, nurtures and enriches life.
    Her love is art; like a sculptor applying the chisel, like a skilled painter enlivening the brush.

    But while she plants entire orchards, she is rarely offered her flowers.
    Gift as womanhood may be, vibrant and delightful as femininity may be, being a woman comes with a share of injustices and sacrifices.

    In some contexts, womanhood almost seems synonymous with strained survival, with enduring, with a back heavied into a perpetual bow.

    The dictates of biological constructs still disfavour women increasingly as prejudice rears its ugly head. The very biology that allows us to give life is wielded against us, to make our own lives laborious. It’s almost as if nurture is intentionally moulded to turn our nature into a trap.

    Doesn’t it seem like being a woman requires perpetual, difficult choices?
    Why should responsibility and fulfilment be waved before women as opposed paths?
    Whether sacrificing or prioritizing, your heart shall be tested, even in joyous moments.

    Too often you will be “guilt-tripped” and shamed for wanting more and for being more.

    It is okay to want more.
    It is okay to be more.

    It is okay to soar to career peaks and endeavor for entrepreneurial prodigy.

    So why is it implied that to desire success is to abandon our homes and children?
    Some sincerely believe that multitasking effectively could elude those that can keep more than one heart beating at once – those that can create and carry life while maintaining their own.
    How unfortunate.

    But fortunately, we are here today, backs unbent, faces turned towards a future our mothers and the ones before them might have only dreamt of; a future where we are universally recognized for our equal intellectual potential, ambition and determination.

    Perhaps this is where I draw my gratefulness to exist in the now, as a Rwandan woman.

    To belong to a country with progressive political will for women’s empowerment, conducive legislative frameworks, and affirmative policies and budget allocation, is to experience the leveling of playing fields, in real time.

    Yes, what we have is precious, but only by consistently working for further progress, do we truly value that which we have achieved.

    To the women that have stood at every threshold of history, that have defended our humanity, that have earned us dignified living, thank you.

    I am forever amazed by the resolve and grace with which so many women I have loved, known or simply watched from afar, have braved a world that did not always return the kindness and devotion that it demanded of them.
    May we always match your incredible spirit.

    Sisters, I urge you to carve your character carefully, define your boundaries, advocate for yourselves and other women and girls, and protect your physical and mental health. And please, love yourself with the same gentleness you give others – the same gentleness you wish and deserve to experience from the world.

    To the men that have stood in defense and support of their mothers, their wives, their sisters, their daughters, and all women:
    History remembers, and it shall applaud you, just as we do today.
    We celebrate you.

    To the men that have forsaken their roles, those that have been blessed with homes or fatherhood, but turn a blind eye to the duties such benedictions entail:
    Know that it is equally your responsibility to create happiness under your own roof, to protect the health of your family.

    To our communities, the vessels that carry the spirit and values of a nation into homes and into hearts:
    We count on you to embrace your power to drive the change we all need.
    We count on you to raise sons that champion gender equality.
    We count on you to recognize that to be your children’s keepers, you must be willing to hold them equally accountable.

    As we usher in this month dedicated to women, we must all March together further. We must keep our goal in sight until it is achieved: until we see the rewarding day where the gender gap is closed, where the technological prowess of our modern times is deployed to ensure inclusivity, and where women are given their flowers, at last.

    It does indeed take a village.

    “How will women do it all?”
    They should not.

    Happy International Women’s Month!