An Interview with my Mother-International Womens Day

For International Womens Day this year I interviewed a woman in a flower pot.

This woman has a wealth of information to share on womens equal rights, 
anti-racism and a handbook full of wise grandmotherly advice.

Why is she in a flower pot?

You can find out here

This woman I speak of is my one and only mother.

 My mum is in Ireland so I see her maybe once a year. However we are in contact all the time. Daily we send each other messages, photos and videos by Whatsapp , Skype and Facebook. I am so lucky to have such amazing technology at my fingertips. The connection goes a huge way in helping me deal with the home sickness. We can sit and look at each other on Skype. Sometimes there might be a delay on the line but really the fact that we can see each other in real time is amazing.

Think of the women who came to Australia 50 years ago. It would have been indefinite farewell to your family. You would not have been able to afford to go home and you would have had to wait weeks for a response to those questions only mothers know how to answer.

So today I share some thoughts and wisdom from my inspiring mother.

1. What challenges do you think women still face in 2015?

Feminism has become a dirty word in 21st Century and many women do not actually understand what feminism is; the political, economic and socially equality of women with men – and these areas of women’s lives are still not equal with men. The UN human rights experts have said that ‘no country in the world has yet achieved full substantive equality of women and the progress and achievements made over the last hundred years regarding women’s equality are under constant threat’. I think it is important to give some statistics regarding the position of women of the world in 2015 and the need to continue to fight for equal rights in the western world and in the developing world.:
  • Women make up half of the global population – but they represent 70% of the world’s poor
  • At least one in 3 women around the world have been beaten, coerced into sex or abused in their lifetime.
  • 1.5 million and 3 million girls and women die each year because of gender-based violence.
  • Globally 1 in 5 women are members of governments
The list of inequalities are endless – I think the challenges women face in 2015 are also endless!!

2. If you could change one thing for women in the world, what would it be? 

Freedom from violence

3. You come from a line of strong women, where do you think this strength has come from?

I have never given this much thought but perhaps it is from my grandmothers – both became widows at a relatively young age and they had to work in order to support their families. My maternal grandmother was a very intelligent woman and had trained as a teacher in the early 20th century before she got married – I am not sure if she ever actually used her training but she did continue to run a drapery business after my grandfather died. My paternal grandmother became a telephonist in a hospital and she worked there until she retired in her 60’s.

4.You have worked with women for many years, what would be your dream job and how do you think it could be achieved?

As I worked with Refugees and Asylum Seekers I learned so much about these women’s lives and the reasons they sought asylum – fleeing forced marriages, violence, female genital mutilation etc – I became passionate about anti-racism and women’s human rights – I began to study the various human rights legislations and the dream of becoming a human rights lawyer began to fill my head! Of course that is all it did – fill my head!

5.There are women throughout the world still living lives ruled by men. Do you think this will ever change?

We need to get more men to become part of the fight of feminism, and there are many men doing just that, but until religious fanatics, traditions and patriarchal societies are changed, I cannot see this happening in the lifetime of my daughters or grandchildren.

6. Do you have any tips for the women of 2015 on how they can make it happen either as individuals, community or a personal achievement?

I think women need to become more politically involved, they need to fight for more work/life balance in their places of work. They should encourage their male counterparts to support them. Women should become more aware of the lives of women who live in countries where their human rights are abused on a daily basis. Become involved in organisations in their area that work with women in prostitution or women’s refuges.

7.How do you think men can help make it happen?

I have noticed many men now becoming involved in protests supporting women – the more men that do this and talk about it to their friends , declare themselves feminists can have a good influence on other men. It will take time though!!

8. Do you have any tips for women like me raising just sons and teaching them equality. Mr. E.P. (4) already identifies things that are only for girls and jobs that only boys can do and I have no idea where he is getting this from?

The only tips I can give you is to get some books that show both boys and girls working in the same jobs or playing with ‘boys’ toys – read more stories that include boys and girls – lots of hugs and kisses from both Mom and Dad – I think children understand more than we give them credit for, so talking about equality in a simple way will give them an understanding of what it is and how important it is for them to know that a girl can do the same job or play with trains just like boys!

10. Can you share any words of wisdom your mother/grandmother or any women gave you?

I honestly do not remember any words of wisdom from my mother or grandmothers – I made my own words of wisdom through living my life – always cherish your friends, always have your running away money and never depend on a man for money!!

11. Do/Did you have any role models?

My role models are all the women activists out there fighting for women’s equality, justice and empowerment for those women who do not have a voice.

12. What did you want to be when you grew up?

I never knew what I wanted to be when I grew up until I grew up and then it was too late!!! I was told by my father that when I finished school I had to do a secretarial course and get a good job – so that is what I did, like a good daughter! I actually wanted to go to college and study literature but I knew that it would not happen and so did not ask. I did eventually (many years later) through an outreach programme from a university, complete a Diploma in Women’s Studies – I loved every minute of this course and 
I learned so much about myself as a woman and how my life was and is affected by patriarchy!

I know I am biased but I really loved all the answers to the questions I sprung with not much notice on my mother.

Thank you for reading the words of wisdom from Mamó.

What words of wisdom do you remember that a mother/grandmother shared with you?

I also got my feminist boots on and spoke about how we need to support each other more and understanding feminism in 2015 you can read it here.

Blogging with a lovely community of mostly women breaking the mould in their own small way with EssentiallyJess.

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