A call to celebrate working women

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A short while ago, I had a strange conversation with an old friend. It was her anniversary. I was congratulating her, and she began joking about me not posting a picture on Facebook. She was teasing me for being sincere only online. She wasn’t half wrong: I hadn’t seen her since the wedding. She’d been in town a few times, but I work well past dinnertime, and I hadn’t been able to meet her.

In that time, things had changed for me as much as they had for her. She’d been married. She’d moved to a beautiful new house. She had a super cute son. I had a new job; been published a 1000 times, which included a few stories I was truly proud to have written. I’d become reasonably known for my work, all of which I had posted online to little or no reception.

My friend was right to tease me about not finding time to meet her. I should balance my life better. But, balance is hard to achieve in an unequal world. I, for example, have had to work double-time just to prove that I could hold the same job as my male colleagues.

Back to my friend: she’s worked in a large company. And, now she raises a child and is a full-time homemaker, so she is a working woman still. She was one of the first people to introduce me as a ‘writer’ when I quit my legal career to become a scribe. This is why it struck me as odd that she wouldn’t notice that she had missed out on me –  a total hot mess – getting my life in order.

That’s when I thought: wow, how conditioned are we? My friend, who I know would be proud of me for doing all the things I have been doing, doesn’t even think to share, support or like my work. She did, however, have no compunctions about wanting immediate validation for her choice of becoming a homemaker.

It’s not that strange, actually. We all do it, including me. We rush to congratulate a girl who gets engaged or a woman who is pregnant. We fawn over homemakers and moms. But, when do we celebrate women who stepping out of the norm?

March 8th, that’s when. March 8th is International Working Women’s Day. It is be a testament to how ignored a group is when even a stakeholder (me, a working woman) did not know about this date. I Googled it as I wrote this. I also forgot Women’s Day. An editor at work pointed out: “Did you think maybe you forgot it was a day to celebrate women because you were too busy trying to get ahead in a male-dominated environment?” I mean, duh.

I’m not trying to undermine all the happy couples and mothers out there. I respect my friends who made that choice; I’m in awe of how they’re able to nurture living beings; I love their kids. The feelings I’m describing are based on my experience and those of many working women.

Our society is set up to encourage traits that are traditionally identified as feminine. Whether we admit it or not, we ignore women who don’t fit into that mould. More people will congratulate a woman — including married, working women who are mothers — on getting married or becoming pregnant than for anything they’ve achieved in their work life.

Speaking as a single, not-pregnant woman who loves her work and is good at it, I have to tell you that feels unfair. Women actually burn out faster than men because lack of support is, quite simply, depressing.

With that in mind, I’d like to propose a week during which we root for women who are achieving in the workplace also.

How?

Reach out to a friend who has been working her ass off and let her know you’ve noticed. On Facebook or Instagram, tag Pyjama People while sharing her work and we will repost it.

Trust me, your friend will be like:

Avantika Mehta
Written by

Editor, Pyjama People

Avantika Mehta used to be a lawyer, resident Blue Frog party freak and proud wearer of harem pants curated from Kasol. Then she became a writer and it all went downhill. Famous Scottish journalists have been known to call her ‘a volatile woman.’

Twitter @bitingfriends / Instagram: @bitingfriends

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