Your Call to Action this International Women’s Day
A mindfulness teacher’s perspective
For this International’s Women’s Day, I thought long and hard about what to share with you.
As one whose teachings are grounded in love, compassion and kindness, I decided to examine recent events through this lens. This is not to say that other perspectives are not valid, rather that as a practitioner of peace, this is what I have observed.
Today, we are living in a world of change where women are tired of being harassed, assaulted and bullied. Their pain has been simmering beneath the surface for decades, and despite the advancements in gender equality, many areas remain stagnant in growth and development.
On this International Women’s Day, there will be marches, speeches and rallies, calling on women to rise up and lend their voice to fighting for their basic human right to be heard, acknowledged and respected.
This call is loud and powerful.
Its echo spreads across the world and galvanises women into action. It highlights the plights of those who are shackled, abandoned and voiceless. It celebrates the successes of those who have championed women’s rights and won great victories against oppression. #PressforProgress
It also creates a stark divide, challenging men to choose between being supporters or perpetrators. There will be many men marching alongside women, fully committed to supporting this cause not just for one day of the year but time and time again.
These are men who are tired of seeing their daughters, sisters and partners harassed, bullied and abused.
These are men who have in the past felt powerless when women were treated poorly, caught between wanting to do the right thing and having to conform to social norms.
These are men who have decided that they will stand beside women who fight for justice, hope and equality because it is the right thing to do.
For women marching in the frontlines leading this cause, they are putting everything on the line — their careers, their reputation, their self. Each has a story to tell that resonates with millions of others. Each stands as a voice that is alone on its own, but when combined with others, becomes an unstoppable force.
For women watching from the sidelines, they are not merely bystanders. Some are still caught in webs of injustice, abuse and fear, unable to break free. Others are afraid of speaking out for fear of the retributions that may follow.
Then there are those still processing the trauma and pain of what happened to their bodies, hearts and minds. Regardless of whether this grief is new or old, these women continue to suffer, sometimes unable to access the help they need or locked in a battle with their inner demons, unable to see a way out.
These years will be written in history as a time of women standing up and demanding to be heard.
Many initiatives have already occurred, with some like the #MeToo Movement and Time’s Up being more vocal than others. Bullies, harassers and perpetrators have been called out, named and shamed. Some have suffered career loses, while others find themselves ostracised. Others appear to be unaffected, for the moment.
With each passing day, more and more women are coming forward with their stories. Some are sensationalised to the point of apathy. Others haunt friends and colleagues who speak of their shame at not intervening and supporting women during their time of need.
And it is not only women who have suffered.
Every man and woman has a story.
A story of being humiliated. A story of being abused. A story of being treated less than they were.
There are growing questions of what happens next.
Of what has been achieved by women coming forward with their stories.
Of where to go from here to seek justice and make amends.
Of what message this is sending our younger generations on the treatment of human beings, regardless of their gender, race, skin colour or religion.
There is much anger here.
Those who have suffered silently have waited for a long time before they could come forward with their stories. Their rawness and vulnerability to speak out has created ripples of awe, determination and emotional outcries throughout the world.
Women are demanding justice.
They are wanting the world to sit up and take note of what’s happening. They are challenging traditional norms and stereotypes that serve to oppress and control.
It is easy to be swept up in this wave of anger. Though public demonstrations have been free of violence thus far, there is an undercurrent of tension and unrest simmering beneath its surface.
The demand for answers will not go away.
There are too many voices involved now. The grievances have been aired publically and each day brings new stories to light.
The expectations of each person affected by these events will be different.
Some may seek legal justice, wanting their perpetrators to be judged by the eyes of the law. Others may desire retribution of some other kind, based on what they feel is the right punishment.
Through all this, forgiveness is a word that the world appears unready to hear. Perhaps this is because, to many, forgiveness means to forget and this would mean perpetrators not being held accountable for the pain, heartache and damage they have caused.
Just like forgiveness, compassion is another word that remains absent from our vocabulary.
To feel compassion would be to see the world through the eyes of another, to put aside one’s feeling and show kindness.
In this world of hate, anger and indifference, how different would our thoughts, words and deeds be if we all felt compassion towards each other?
This is not to take away any of what has happened or to belittle the efforts at addressing the wrongs.
It is simply a request to pause and allow our hearts to heal. It is a plea to look after one another, to be kind, to let go of our assumptions and judgements. It is an appeal to remember our humanity, to remember our love, to remember our oneness. #TheMindfulMoment
We cannot go back and change the past. We cannot undo what’s already done. And we cannot continue to have women (or anyone) suffer at the hands of any individual or group.
Our actions (and inactions) have consequences for us, other people, and the world with far-reaching effects that we cannot predict.
Each of us has the capacity to love, heal and inspire this world for none are born with the singular purpose of destruction, suffering and hatred.
So this International Women’s Day, whatever you choose, may your thoughts, words and deeds be of love, of compassion, and of peace.
We look to rebuild this world as one that is free of violence, free of hatred, free of inequalities. To do so, let us begin how we mean to go on. #PresentMomentReminder
And to those who are still hurting inside, grieving the loss of innocence, suffering because of past events, please remember that you are loved. You are worthy. You matter. #LoveOnlyLove