So many fights and so many commitments to finally recognize women, our rights in our choices and in our duties.
Yes, it took millennia to wash away the original sin, for Eve to no longer be fated to give birth in pain, and for maternity to become a choice rather than a fatality.
The struggles of the British suffragettes, of Jane Addams and Marie Curie, and of all the women who in 1918 did not want to disappear back into their kitchens with the end of the war — these struggles are behind us. Tossed away alongside Kaiser Guillaume II’s three “Ks” are fascist states and maternal sacralization into the oubliettes of history.
The twentieth century, through the voice of its icons — both women and men — has asked the right questions. The twenty-first has now to provide the answers.
The progress on feminist issues has been enjoyed by western women for the most part. In most countries, everything is yet to be accomplished. And despite remarkable progress, even in most Western countries Simone de Beauvoir’s observations in The Second Sex is still relevant: still in 2018 “One is not born, but rather becomes, a woman.” Yes, throughout history, we have been defined as the “other” sex, an aberration of the “normal” sex, lesser.
I believe that everything we are is the result of our choices and ruling social norms. I believe that it is not our biological condition of women which constitutes a handicap but the image that society has created of it. From childhood, the dice are cast and the cards are dealt: young girls are soothed by stories of princesses looking for Prince Charming, while little boys dress up as superheroes ready to set off and conquer the Universe.
But let us be honest for a moment: we, women from all around the world, have played a key role in this enslavement as we have, and have always had, the opportunity to change. To change society, its values, standards and norms that govern, that direct our lives. The key to acting and inspiring change lies in educating our children. We should put a stop to raising frail princesses and instead raise all our children as superheroes! It is time to change the tale so that the woman grows into a human in the same way as a man, becomes a human like the others.
Today, it remains indisputable that having a department charged with guaranteeing gender equality is necessary. To this day, women are paid less than men despite higher academic success rates. Perhaps more easily visualized is the discrimination in leadership roles. Think about it, how many women are there at the head of the world’s largest companies? Why do single-parent families tend to be mostly feminine? When you imagine a professor or doctor, do you picture a man or a woman?
The reason for this is our culture heritage and the warped sexist values it imparts on each generation. We are still the second sex twenty-first century society. The notion of women as inferior is still deeply rooted in collective memory, in our thoughts, in our actions, in our behaviors, in our lives. Today, our fight must continue, change, evolve and establish itself in the economic field too so that women are finally accepted as equal.
There is still territory to be gained. We will, and must, break the highest glass ceilings and reach the highest positions, step by step. We must encourage each other to muster the courage to free ourselves from the yoke of male chauvinism for a real parity in politics, in firms, in administrations and, of course, at home.
Ministries dedicated to women must disappear. They must become obsolete.
That day will be celebrated as the day we will be able to say that the woman is as human as the others.