8th March... significant day for women. I've grown to love the day more and more as I've got older and understand women's hardships and challenges. But more than anything else, in my mind its something that should be celebrated everyday.
IWD is set out to celebrate women's achievements, equality, and the progress we've made as women. It's not only about celebrating achievements within home and the work place, but also social, economic, cultural and political wins. Over the years women's roles have changed in society for the better... I can definitely see a change and improvement. Is there more that can be done? Absolutely, but I'm pleased about the progress we're making as humanity (yes I'm an optimist).
This year's campaign theme for IWD is #EachforEqual. To me that means everyone regardless of race, religion, gender, social class should be treated equally. From what I see around me this isn't always happening, but I'm determined to be the change. By changing my mindset, who I surround myself with, what I chose to see and hear will help me change myself and hopefully create a small ripple effect. The aim is to create a happier gender and race equal world... but I think this can only happen by being the change.
I'm am ever so lucky to be born into my family. I'm one of three girls, eldest daughter and there's mum and dad, or Papa as we like to call him. Within the Asian culture (this still happens now in some families) a newborn boy can be favoured over a newborn girl. My parents have three girls. For some people this can be seen as unfortunate, unlucky, a burden, a bit of a dead end (who will carry on the family name). The three of us are so lucky to have our Papa who loved as daughters with no limitations. We've been bought up by our parents with love, and encouragement to be able to do whatever we put our mind to. The concept of 'you can't do that because you're a girl' was something we never heard or aware of. My father chose to be the change for us. Without my fathers mindset, we wouldn't be where we are today.
So on this International Women's Day, I'm not only celebrating the wonderful women around me, but also my Papa who allowed us to flourish. (Can't forget my husband who has played a big part since I've met him - that's a blog for another day).
I'm actually doing a short talk today at and Women's Day Event speaking about my journey and whether women can 'have it all'. The jist of the talk will be yes you can have whatever you put your mind to - but having support around you from loved ones (like we had from our Papa growing up) is absolutely essential.
I've been lucky to have been surrounded by strong, independent, thought provoking women. Living with them has shaped me as a person, and has guided me on my journey. Sometimes people have to look for strong women within public figures, celebrities, but I've been so lucky that I have those women live with and around me. (We don't live together now, but we still
spend alot of time together).
Mummy Patel, moved here from India over 30 years ago with my Papa. She had no family or friends in UK, and just took a leap of faith. Mum and Dad have had an amazing journey, that we've been fortunate enough to witness and be a part off. After looking after us till we went to school full time, she pursued her passion and opened he own nursery. After taking early retirement we helped her start up her new Award Winning Business - Blooms By Vanita. It's a joint effort and we all play a small part, but the business wouldn't be there without her. To start a full fledged business after turning 50 is amazing.
Devika, our middle sister, is definitly the comedian of the family. People take about middle child syndrome, I don't think she has it. She's flourished as a beautiful young lady out to materialise what she wants.
Her passion for being the change within mental health sector is admirable. For her its important to change the world to make it a better place for those who may not have the capacity to make the change for themselves.
Vidya, our youngest, beauty of the family and our claim to fame. She was in the BBC Young Dancer finals in 2015 and showed the world how graceful, technical and a work of art Kathak is. At such a young age, she achieved so much, worked with some incredible people, in incredible places and spaces. I admire her for firstly changing the perception of Indian Classical Dance, but also breaking boundaries for the young coloured generation within the arts industry.
I know it may seem that as a family we are 'perfect' but we've hard our ups and downs, we've argued as a family, me and my sisters have had fall outs. We realise we have differences, but at the end of the day we're the original five and have a close loving bond with each other than can't be broken. Those up's and down's have made us stronger...
I am grateful for having these women, my family, and my husband around me.
Today, let's not only celebrate our achievements as women, but let's also celebrate those around us who have helped us climb up higher on the ladder. Let's celebrate those who have given us opportunities regardless of gender, race, religion, age. Let's celebrate ourselves for for saying yes and trying something new...
Happy International Women's Day
PS. Who inspires you and why? Let me know below...