Today, on March 8th, 2018 is International Women’s Day. What does that mean? Is it just another day marked on a calendar? Sadly, for so many yes! But, fortunately for others – definitely no! At the age of 42, for the first time in my life, this day means a whole lot to me. Perhaps, it’s the aging kicking in and/or right timing that this day has come to mean something – something I wasn’t fully aware of, or worse took for granted. As a matter of fact, I’ve been deliberating over it for days – quite unsure if I should share my thoughts about it in this blog. Obviously, I decided that I should, because after all, I’m one hell of an opinionated person and I owe it to the people who have supported me and shaped my values. This is not meant to be “heavy reading” or just another trending post on empowerment. I apologize to those who expected a design-related post. But, if you do take a minute and read, I sure hope that you won’t regret it…
Let’s flashback in time, when I was still in High school. One of my teachers asked something that resonated like: ‘Is our destiny shaped by the place of birth and the community we are raised in, or do we shape our destiny ourselves?’ It became a heated debate among us students, for the answer was not obvious then! …back to the present, the answer is much more obvious yet, not the same for all. Most people’s destiny is indeed shaped by their place of birth and the community they’re raised in. Furthermore, people’s destiny is shaped by their gender. As sad as that may sound, it is a reality that we can’t ignore. Think of all the new-coming babies that are born in slums… What are their fair chances of changing their lives into another context? I strongly urge you to watch (in case you haven’t already) a 2008 British movie: Slumdog Millionaire, directed by Danny Boyle. (The official trailer is found here).
Don’t we shape our destinies ourselves? Well, we do! But only to the extend that comes to which opportunities we take and which we pass on. And, that’s the key! Opportunities! But of course, there’s a catch. Can we create our own opportunities? Depends. Does knowledge lead to new opportunities? Sometimes, not always because timing is also a contributing factor. I wish I had a straight-forward answer. But, no matter how I try to tackle these questions, I keep on returning to a single fact. EDUCATION!
How is it possible for me to type away today and publish posts in a blog? Because of my education. How is it possible for me to make a daily earning from my day job as a designer? My education. Or, how can I implement a design drawing of mine in a construction site with a multitude of crews of tradesmen from various disciplines? My education. How is it possible for me to appreciate a good design over a bad one? My education. And don’t get me wrong, I’m not only talking about the academic education I received in a school, and a university. Education is a an all around discipline – an ongoing process of knowledge, learning and skills, ideas, beliefs and most of all values. And this is the one thing that no one can ever take away from me or you. It shapes our point of view. It gives us a voice. It gives us power. It gives us freedom. It gives us the ability to reason and act accordingly as an active, responsible member of a society.
Therefore, if we want to empower women, we need to invest in education and encourage learning. Obviously, we must fight to earn the right to women’s education in some parts of the world (something that many Westerners take for granted). But furthermore, we must invest in everyone’s education. That’s where it all begins. We need to broaden our comfort zones and invest in learning more languages in order to understand other people better. We need to place more emphasis in liberal arts. As a mother, I have the responsibility to educate my son and daughter that although they’re not the same, they’re equal. Hence, they deserve the same opportunities. Moreover, as a working woman in my industry, I want to show women that we can earn everyone’s respect through our problem solving skills, quick thinking ability, and knowledge. Gender may set us apart, but it doesn’t lessen anyone.
The whole purpose of education is to turn mirrors into windows.
Sydney J. Harris
Since I serve as an example to my children, just as any parent for that matter, I want my son and daughter to know that their mother received the best academic education my parents could afford. My parents never saw in me or my sister a lesser person with lesser abilities because of our gender. They saw two individuals with a capacity in learning, encouraged and nourished it. Those are the values I want to pass on to my children. Furthermore, I want my children to know that I try not to waste this knowledge. For instance, my sister and I wrote papers and presented them in numerous symposiums, and international congresses all over the world – our very own tiny contribution in our industry. I also want them to understand that knowledge must spread. Knowledge is not for our safe-keeping, it’s meant to empower and inspire us to do more. (Part of the reason why I’m blogging in this little corner of the web, is to spread and share some of my acquired knowledge – while having fun. I don’t want to simply show off pretty images and that’s why my posts are more like editorials). 😉 Finally, I want them to understand that education is a means to a life with fewer fears and prejudice and there lies the opportunity of living more. My ultimate goal is to educate them the best, my husband George and I can, and teach them to seize the opportunities that will come their way… the rest will be up to them!
The struggle for women’s equality has come a long way. It has been paved with obstacles, stereotypes, backward thinking and prejudice. But, every voice ever raised has made a difference. Every value we built as a society matters. Let’s make it all matter…