Thursday, March 8, 2018

International Women's Day -- for childless women too

It's International Women's Day, which was never much of a thing when I was younger, but has gained momentum as an event/day of note in recent years. I suspect this is largely due to two factors: (1) the latest wave of the women's movement, fuelled by #MeToo, etc., and (2) IWD-related marketing campaigns by corporations seeking goodwill from their female customers and prospects.

Jody Day of Gateway Women in the U.K. has a great post about IWD from the childless-not-by choice perspective, and I'd encourage you all to read it (& watch the embedded TEDTalk video too, if you haven't already seen it).

Of course, "Celebrating women means childless women too!"  I think most people would reflexively agree (as I did at first).

But does it, really?

Jody reminds us that as many as one in five (20%) of women do not have children (the majority not by choice) -- and yet "womanhood and motherhood are routinely conflated" -- in particular by employers (who seem to believe that "family-friendly" policies, by definition, mean "woman friendly");  by marketers, who routinely target "Mom" in their ad campaigns;  and by politicians, who love to talk about their "family values" and policies that benefit "hard-working families."

"It’s time that marketeers and social policy thinkers understood that not all women are mothers or grandmothers and that not everyone has a family poised to take care of them in old age," she writes.

I did (thankfully) see plenty of inclusive tributes to women on my social media feeds. But after reading Jody's article, I couldn't help but notice how many of my friends were posting tributes to & photos of their daughters (as well as their mothers) -- and how many references there were to "raising the next generation." I even heard (via my CNBC friends & sites) about IWD events where motherhood and support for mothers was the main topic of discussion. Ugh.

As someone said in a Facebook comment on Jody's story, "On a day like today I expected a much wider scope -- it's International Women's Day not International Mothers' Day.'"

IWD is a day when (unlike Mother's Day) I would expect to feel solidarity with all ALL my global sisters.  I hope that, as IWD continues to grow in prominence, it doesn't become another "holiday" where (along with Mother's Day, Father's Day and now Family Day) my "otherness" gets rubbed in my face.  Let's keep IWD focused on the progress and achievements and common interests that bring ALL women together, regardless of their childbearing status.


  1. Well said. To Jody, and to you.

  2. Yes, a million times yes to this. I saw a lot of "Strong Women: May We Be Them, May We Raise Them" type stuff, and that's lovely, but leaves out all of us who, you know, just get to BE them. :) I would like it better if it was "Strong Women: May We Be Them, May We Encourage Them." You don't have to be a mother to encourage the next generation or want more for the women of the future.