International Women’s Day was celebrated on Wednesday last. Living in Abu Dhabi and surrounded by expat wives and women ( I differentiate purposely) it prompted me to think of the women I know and love and their qualities and achievements.
Unfortunately, many of the qualities that immediately come to mind were bitching, moaning and complaining about cooking, cleaning, minding children and having to run errands, a condition not exclusive to, but very apparent in expatriate women . While I do have a smidgen of understanding in this area, it is difficult to swallow the particular argument when many of the women in question are, a. not working by design and, b. have a full-time maid at their disposal. The equivalent in Ireland being, a. you have your health and b. everyone else was made redundant as well. When I hear complaints about having to bath the baby, I immediately conjure up an image of a 2 tonne baby elephant standing coyly beside a rusty bucket and a hand towel. Moans about grocery shopping and making dinner sends my imagination in overdrive as I picture these women, with little water and leaves for shoes having to walk for miles along desert tracks in order to pick up a Jar of Uncle Ben’s Sweet and Sour Sauce and maybe back again if they forgot the pompudoms. This negative attitude is rife among women today and is being bolstered by midweek wine supping and prescription anti-depressants, all factors which are contributing to create a non-participant in anything that doesn’t involve a warm chicken salad and a glass of sauvignon blanc topped off by a good dollop of self pity and mutual moan with another prune pondering on whether they are as happy as they should be.j
Thankfully for every prune there a plum, loads and loads of women around the world living their lives to the fullest and capitalizing on their resources. Typically women are the networkers, the communicators in society, consistently using their creativity in ingenuity to make connections from niche markets to multi-national corporations. This condition, while not exclusive to, is very evident in Irish women. Every day I’m getting emails from my friends at home, talking about their work at home as a graphic designer despite having two toddlers to tend to, or excited about the challenge to complete a 5k run and others who have embraced the potential waterloo in the workplace and travelled to the US to up-skill. This attitude appears to be inherited from our elder sisters approaching late summer in their lives, who in the sixties and seventies in Ireland, worked at what they could in order to support the family home and maintain their sanity, seamstresses, knitters, shop assistances, carers, hairdressers all piled out of the woodwork through the women of the forties and fifties to start a new trend, the working woman, no longer was washing and ironing for eight children enough, these women wanted something for themselves. From the seventies, women grew into the eighties and nineties to want more from their careers and started looking towards professions, Medicine, Engineering. A wide array of business opportunities opened up for women, leaving the workforce an equal playing field. Our mothers and grannies are leading fuller lives than ever before, owning their own homes, holidaying in Tenerife and shopping in Boston, quite an accomplishment for the generation who started the revolution, true participants of life. These are the women that I celebrated on International Women’s Day.
It seems the key is occupation. Being occupied makes the mind healthy, resulting in positive attitude. As the number of prescriptions written for anti-depressants surpasses the number of Vitamin B tablets sold per week, it is important that this the new breed of non-participants get occupied so as not unravel the strides that our sisters have made, hoover the house, run a marathon, apply for directorship, open a salon, practice law, do the ironing, raise your children and your chin, leave down the wine glass and go for a run but quit nagging and do something because the participants are chomping at the bit, delighted that their time is nigh, working, playing and enjoying life to the fullest and your moaning is giving us a bad rep.