A 6 year old, running through the school corridors, suitcase rattling behind her. She throws open the doors, exits the building and sees her fathers car. Ready for a weekend filled with fun she enters the vehicle. Only to find out, there is a man sitting behind the wheel she has never seen before. “Hi, I’m your fathers chauffeur, he was called in an emergency meeting and asked me to come pick you up.” She whispers “ok”, as the car picks up speed and takes her to the family home.
This was me, 23 years ago. In my memory, my father was always working. Away. Striving towards a better World, and a better future for his children. His ratrace paid off. He became a successful entrepreneur. And I followed in his footsteps. We are alike, a lot.
But today, on International Women’s day, I realised what is missing in this picture of success, that it is not my picture of success, of status. Economic status is being valued. Whoever has the most money – has the most say – has the most power – has a future. Whoever becomes only ‘the job’ and not ‘the person’, ‘the father’ or ‘the mother’, can be the boss. That is so wrong.
We came to value only the economic power and not the emotional, social, loving power. A ratrace has developed in the world. It’s always faster, harder, stronger. It’s a ratrace of ego’s. We seem to have forgotten that we live in a society of people. We depend on each other. And we depend on entire eco-systems around us. Without those, there is no us. There is no you. No man is an island, but today we are.
The World became like this, by the way we shaped our society. Coincidentally (maybe, maybe not) this society was mainly shaped by men.
Unpaid work like volunteering, taking care of the children, of the living environment, making sure there is a meal on the table and enabling others in the family to pursue their dreams has little to no value. It just ‘is’.
Status and power solely rely on the professional and economic position. On how much you are willing to give up.
Let me paint a picture. I was enjoying a short holiday with my 3 month old daughter and partner in France. When I got a call; a very important man was willing to help me and my ‘little business’, but wanted to see my dedication to the business – only if I was willing to cut my holiday short and return home a week earlier then anticipated, would he help me. Because people who didn’t show full commitment, were not worth the investment of his time. So I went home. To this day, I still regret my decision.
You know what? I am all of it. I am a dedicated entrepreneur. I am a loving mother and partner. I am the cook, the cleaner, the caretaker and the schedule keeper. And I will continue to press for progress, because this is my definition of success. Power now relies solely on a professional position, not how good you are to your children. Even though those children in the end will form our future.
Today, on International Women’s Day, I wish to be the storyteller. Think about this. Women are told to ‘lean in’. To join the ‘old boys network’. To take a seat in boardrooms. There are women-quota’s and papers on including women in this men’s world. Yes, maybe for now gender equity should be our goal, but that is not the end goal. The end goal should be a re-evaluation of what status is. Of what power is. It will slow down the ratrace, if we start to press for progress in this area. Simply put, if we as a society start to care. For people. For the World.
My almost 3 year old daughter just wrote her application letter to Elon Musk. She wants to build a rocket and fly to the moon with her whole family (and back, hopefully). My heart grows three sizes when I hear her speak about this, and when I realise she has this opportunity after all that women from previous generations have fought for.