International Women's Day (IWD) does not receive a lot of fanfare in the United States in part because it was originally a socialist holiday in the Soviet bloc. Originally dubbed International Working Women's Day, it is a day commemorating the economic, political, and social achievements of women. In many cultures, people celebrate similarly to American Valentine's Day or Mother's Day. In Russia, men flock to the corner florist stops to buy bouquets for all the women in their lives: mothers, wives/girlfriends, teachers, aunts, etc. During my study abroad, my male American classmates were dismayed at how there was an international women's day but no international men's day. Our professor, who by no means was a feminist, responded sternly: "Boys, boys, boys. In Russia, women have one day. One. Day. All other 364 days of the year are men's days." Nervous giggles, and then silence.
This year, I am participating in Gender Across Border's annual blog for IWD. The theme is Connecting Girls, Inspiring Futures with the prompt of:
- How can we, as a culture and as members of the global community, involve, educate, and inspire girls in a positive way?
- Describe a particular organization, person, group or moment in history that helped to inspire a positive future and impact the minds and aspirations for girls.
My Mom is a lifelong volunteer with many different organizations, most notably the Girl Scouts. Growing up, my sister and I attended countless scout meetings and sold around a bajillion cookies. (Speaking of...have you heard of Samoa-flavored milkshakes? My mouth is watering already.) Since our Mom was our leader, we got lots of brownie points and even more badges to display on our little brown or green uniforms. But looking back, it was so much more than that.
As our Girl Scout leader...
- My Mom taught us leadership skills. She was both manager of the troop, treating me like every other girl, and my mother, treating me like her daughter. As momager, she balanced the behind-the-scenes tasks to keep the troop running smoothly while being front-and-center as a leader and role model.
- My Mom taught us how to work hard. She walked us through goal-setting and how to develop a plan to achieve the goals. Each cookie season, we sat down and estimated how many cookies we wanted to sell (usually to get some prize), and then planned how many boxes we'd need to sell to people in the neighborhood. We also gained new skills in our pursuit to have the most badged-out sashes and vests.
- My Mom showed us the importance of service. She led us gracefully to the conclusion that serving others is a high calling, one that should be sought in community. While we each had individual goals for badges and prizes and such, we worked together as a unit to achieve them. It made service fun and social, rather than an isolated chore.
This International Women's Day, I want to give a big THANK YOU to my wonderful (biological) Mom, who taught us how to be women of valor, integrity, and service.