When I was a teenager, I remember always feeling a bit awkward when receiving flowers for Women’s Day. “What are we celebrating?”, I’d think. “The only difference from men is that we have periods and children. The fact that we have periods is nothing to celebrate and I hate to think that if I ever have children, I have to think of my career, face the consequences on my body, possible serious health implications and who knows what else”. And I would always wonder why we don’t host a similar celebration for men, as I thought cupcakes and flowers are pretty wicked gifts to receive by many of my male friends.
I never thought much about womanhood. I knew feminism was important, but I didn’t think I ever experienced any sort of oppression because of my gender. Nobody told me I couldn’t go to film school and that I couldn’t hold a camera. The issues I encountered whilst growing up were about everything but my gender.
Then in 2018 I went to Argentina. I got a job as a videographer in Buenos Aires on Girls20 Summit. Featuring girls aged 18 to 23, it featured many topics, including female empowerment.
I remember sitting in a room full of beautiful, strong, diverse young women. I remember listening to the speech from CEO Heather Barnabe, and this was when I realised “Wait, I don’t know anyone like her”. Heather was so sharp, smart, supportive, vulnerable, beautiful in and out, and a young female CEO.
And then slowly but surely something started to shift in my head.
I remember all the mentors being female, and I remember all the participants suffering from impostor syndrome, thinking they weren’t good enough to be there, despite of having changed policies, established NGOs and rocked half of this world with their l projects. I was like “WHAT ARE YOU EVEN SAYING GIRLS, YOU ARE AMAZING”.
Then I looked at myself. I realised I also suffered from an impostor syndrome. I thought I wasn’t good enough to be there, which is why I didn’t even apply to be a participant.
Then I looked at the room again.
And this is when the final realisation hit me.
It took me 23 years of my life and a whole path of international education on 3 continents to find myself in a room of 25 people where the CEO was young and female, the team was made of badass diverse empowered women who are breaking the glass ceilings like if they were made of paper, NOBODY is competing and everyone around me is a supportive, strongly leading female.
It’s not about women taking over the world. I believe in female empowerment just as much as male one. But if it wasn’t for Girls20, I would never start my own business. Cause even though no one ever told me “you can’t go to film school because you are a woman”, no one told me “Hey Sonia, you can be a CEO one day”.
And if it’s not about the pay gap in your country, it’s about the dream gap. It’s about the motherhood gap. It’s about the catcall gap. It’s about all the gaps that you aren’t likely to have if you were born with one set of genitals as opposed to other.
So when my co-workers and friends welcomed me with flowers today, when my brother sent me lovely wishes, when students kept wishing me a Happy Women’s Day and when my boyfriend Ben Davies wrote a cute post full of support, I think I finally understood what Women’s Day is all about.
Women went a long way over the past 100 years and we still have a long way to go. But those flowers are a symbol of empowerment of women before my time, women here now, and many more to come.
By: Sonia Wargacka