About international women's day


Ethiopia, Oromo woman and her children 

In a conversation with my daughter Francisca, I asked her if she knew what the international woman's day was all about. she answered that she didn't know, so I asked why would we celebrate this day . She looked at me very firmly and said, "Because there are things that women can not do, because only men can do it." I was about to die, my own daughter was corroborating with chauvinism. I'm sure I had a beggining of what it semed a panic attack, my brows furrowed, and I think I was blinking one eye intermittently. I asked her back, "What do you mean you can not do it? Don't you think women can do anything they want ?? Who are as capable as men?" Because, she is my daughter, she wrinkled her beautiful eyebrows back at me but without blinking one eye (or I would be truly worried!) She answered: - "Mom!! Yes, they cannot because they will not let them do it! Look  just like, for example, the ones the fadistas* are now singing about! Those who suffer from domestic violence! Or those that you always talk about, those that in certain countries are treated like animals. They can not do it because they are not allowed to."
I swallowed hard. then I asked again: - "Do you know what domestic violence is?" she replied "I know, it's when you are afraid in your own home."

One time. I told her. No woman should accept being a victim. Because if we give birth, there isn't higher pain than that (I did not tell her this,of course, I do not want to traumatize her). We are stronger than sometimes we are made to believe. We are educated, to be sensitive, fragile beings. The word victim, takes away our power. Unfortunately there are real victims of all kinds and forms. In many areas of the world, we are still treated as if we were a commodity, like livestock or flour, sometimes we are worth less than that.

My first love, in geographical terms, was the Middle East. A passion that led me to study in the UK and then travel in the region. As one can imagine, over and over again, friends questioned or asserted without any knowledge of this: "These guys are very abusive to women, man! Or -"These are strange people. Women are worthless there." Tired of debating this issue, bearing in mind, for example, that, more women died in Portugal and Wales, victims of domestic violence more than in the whole Middle East! Meanwhile, in the year 2000 it was written by several organizations where it was debated with specific data how many women were in fact victims of crimes of honor. Which they were indeed. In Portugal, ignorance and silence killed more women. When we continuously ignored the subject, it made many women to accept to die slowly. Our police forces and our laws for a long time have avoided spooning between husband and wife. Luckily today as it is a public crime, that's exactly what one should do.

But education, like 'in these weird countries', is at the core of the matter. But education should not be left alone in the hands of us mothers of girls. Because even there, the weight falls into the hands of mothers of girls 'we have to educate women, girls'. It is quite rare to talk about or to organize debates and workshops to educate men and boys in these matters of gender equality. It's as important for things as simple as girls like my own, to be able to mask themselves as Stormtroopers, without being taken for tomboys.   Or be able to skate or whatever she wants to! Without pejorative labels. So that boys who choose to, to be able to wear pink fuchsia, without suffering any type of bullying. 

Mothers of boys have an obligation to educate their 'princes' to respect equality, and difference, not to rape or force anything on the other, to respect the other gender. This is not only up to the school, it is up to all of us as a society. We, mothers of girls will thank you, society will thank you. And the world will be a much better place for everyone. This is feminism, it is all about equality and not the bogeyman.

*Portuguese tradiotional singers of Fado (Traditional Music of Portugal)
Fotos:Todos os direitos reservados a Sónia Pereira de Figueiredo
Francisca skating in  Estoril, Cascais

|Ainda a propósito do dia internacional da mulher.|

Em conversa com a minha filha Francisca, perguntei-lhe se sabia o que era o dia internacional da mulher. Respondeu-me que não sabia, então perguntei-lhe porque é que se celebraria este dia. Olhou para mim muito fixamente e disse: - Porque há coisas que as mulheres não conseguem fazer, porque só os homens podem fazer. Fiquei para morrer, a minha filha estava a corroborar com o chauvinismo. Tenho a certeza que tive um principio de piri-paque, com as sobrancelhas franzidas e acho que piscava um dos olhos intermitentemente. Perguntei-lhe de volta :- Como assim não conseguem fazer? Não achas que as mulheres podem fazer tudo o que quiserem?? Que são tão capazes como os homens? Porque é minha filha, franziu-me de volta as suas lindas sobrancelhas mas sem piscar intermitentemente um dos olhos (ou estaria eu verdadeiramente preocupada!) respondeu-me:- Mãe!! Sim, não conseguem porque não lhes deixam fazer! Olha como por exemplo aquelas pelas quais agora as fadistas andam a cantar! Aquelas que sofrem de violência doméstica! Ou aquelas que tu falas sempre, aquelas que em certos países são tratadas como animais. Essas não conseguem, porque não lhes deixam.
Engoli em seco. Perguntei:- Sabes o que é violência domestica? Respondeu-me:- Sei, é quando têm medo dentro da sua própria casa.

Basta uma vez. Disse-lhe. Nenhuma mulher deve aceitar ser vitima. Porque se damos à luz, maior dor que essa não há (não lhe disse isto, não a quero traumatizar). Somos mais fortes, do que às vezes cremos. Somos educadas, que somos seres sensíveis, frágeis. A palavra vitima tira-nos o poder. Infelizmente há mesmo vitimas de todos os tipos e formas. Em muitas zonas do mundo, ainda somos tratadas como se fossemos uma comodidade, como o gado ou a farinha, às vezes valemos menos que isso. 

O meu primeiro amor em termos geográficos, foi o Médio Oriente. Paixão que me levou a estudar no Reino Unido e depois viajar pela região. Como pode-se imaginar, vezes sem conta amigos questionaram-me ou afirmavam sem qualquer conhecimento para tal:- Esses gajos maltratam muito as mulheres, pá! ou -É um povo estranho. As mulheres não valem nada lá. Cansada de debater esta questão, tendo em conta, já na altura, que por exemplo morriam mais mulheres em Portugal e no País de Gales, vitimas de violência doméstica, que em todo o Médio Oriente junto! Enquanto, já no ano 2000 se escrevia por várias organizações onde se debatia com dados concretos quantas mulheres eram de facto vitimas de crimes de honra. Que o eram de facto. Em Portugal, a ignorância e o silêncio matava mais mulheres. O ignorarmos o assunto, fez com que muitas mulheres fossem aceitando morrer aos poucos. As nossas forças policiais e as nossas leis durante muito tempo, evitaram meter a colher entre marido e a mulher. Felizmente hoje como é crime público, é isso mesmo que se deve fazer.

Mas a educação, tal como 'nesses países esquisitos', está no cerne da questão. Mas a educação não se deve ficar só nas mãos de nós, mães de meninas. Porque até aí, o peso recai nas mãos de mães de meninas 'temos que educar as mulheres, as meninas' raras são as vezes que se diz ou organizam debates e workshop para educar os homens e rapazes nestas coisas da igualdade do género. É tão importante para coisas tão simples como que meninas como a minha, possam mascarar-se como Stormtrooper, sem serem gozadas por serem 'Marias rapazes'. Ou possam fazer skate ou o que quiserem! Sem rótulos pejorativos. Ou que meninos queiram e possam usar rosa choc, sem sofrerem bullying. As mães de meninos, têm a obrigação de educar os seus 'príncipes' a respeitar a igualdade, e a diferença, a não violar nem forçar, a respeitar o outro género e não cabe só à escola, cabe-nos a todos, é um dever. Nós, mães de meninas agradecemos, a sociedade agradece. E o mundo será um lugar muito melhor para todos. Todos. Isto é feminismo, é igualdade e não um bicho papão. 

*Originally posted on 09/03/15, 10:40 Central European Time



Sónia Pereira de Figueiredo

Sónia is the founder and writer of Amniotico- Parenting, Travel and Tales. She began this blog in 2005 with two posts about parenting, the year she had daughter Francisca. Then life happened. Now since 2014 with a whole new focus on Parenting and Travel. Sonia is also an international Human Rights and Elections expert and as such has worked with the United Nations and European Union in many parts of the globe, including conflict and war torn countries while being a single mom!

10 comments:

  1. Well said. Strongly agree that teaching respect to boys should take priority over teaching girls how to "protect themselves".

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    1. The debate is on, and people are starting to change the focus but still much to do...the weight is still on our shoulders for now, as mothers, sisters, friends etc...

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  2. Loved reading this! Especially the line, 'We are stronger than we sometimes we are made to believe.' Couldn't agree more!

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    1. Right? Thank you!! We are stronger, and together unbeatable :)

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  3. Yes, it's about respecting one another. We're all different, not made the same. But we should be treated with the same type of love and respect.

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    1. Absolutely! We should, yet, there is still a long way to go...but I keep my hopes high.

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  4. You have a very smart daughter :-) I agree completely that inequality shouldn't just be a female issue - it needs to be a human issue if there's ever going to be real progress. And you're right, the Western world, unfortunately, still has a long way to go as well!

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    1. Fortunately at the same time, more men are calling themselves feminists too and they are walking the mile not just saying it..! It means Hope!

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  5. It bothers me how most of women grow up with this mentality that we are the fragile sex, but the truth is, its us that bear the biggest pains and face the biggest struggles, but the society doesn't like to talk or remember of that. What amazes me is that we are use to blame other cultures for mistreat women but unfortunately, it happens in all societies including our own, the difference is that they like to mask it and pretend it doesn't happen. What makes me happy thoug, is to see that slowly this culture of taking women as worthless is dying as more and more women are having active voices and taking actions!

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    1. Completely agree Isadora!! And when you visit teh Middle East you will see many strong women fighting the odds for feminism and beyond. Sometimes stronger and more assertive than in the west!

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