Happy International Women’s Day!
It is a global day to recognize the achievements of women and girls in social, economic, cultural and political endeavours.
Every single day, I find reasons to appreciate and admire women for all they do and contribute to the world.
This year, though, I find myself in awe and filled with genuine respect for the women of Ukraine. MSNBC has called them “Ukraine’s not-so-secret weapon.”
Probably, like you, I have been trying both to keep up-to-date on what's happening in this unprovoked war and distance myself from the horror.
No matter when or where you are watching, women are front and centre.
There are woman fighting on the front lines.
Women were given the right to fight in combat positions in Ukraine’s army in 2016. Before that, they worked as nurses, secretaries, seamstresses, and cooks. Now, they fight for freedom side by side their male counterparts.
There have been so many stories of incredible women and their efforts to fight for their freedom, protect their children and keep up a brave front.
Perhaps you saw, in the media, the woman who had escaped Ukraine to Poland and was in a shelter with her children. Her daughter asked her why she was still smiling and laughing — she explained that if she kept a positive attitude it would show strength and help with her own mental health.
Did you see the video of the 77-year-old woman who took part in an anti-war protest being arrested? According to news reports, she was a well-known activist who survived the Nazis' Siege of Leningrad. She was back at a protest in St. Petersburg in 2022 with placards urging soldiers to lay down their arms.
Women urged the Russian soldiers to call their mothers and explain what it was they were fighting for.
I was also moved by the woman who was doing two things for the war effort. In her words to CNN, the two most important things a Ukrainian woman needs to know is how to make borscht (beet soup) and Molotov cocktails.
No less brave are the women forced to depart Ukraine with their children and pets, leaving behind their husbands, brothers and fathers to fight the Russians.
I will never forget the picture of a refugee heading to a train balancing a baby, a cat carrier, a fish in a bowl and a suitcase. All precious cargo.
I honestly can’t imagine the guts it takes to leave your country with no clue where you are going or if you will ever be going back home. Will there even be a home to go back to? If you do get to return to your homeland, is your family still alive?
Every person I have seen interviewed say basically the same things:
“We have no choice but to keep going.”
“We love our country. We have to fight for it.”
“We are scared, but we have to stay strong. There’s no time to cry. We have to get on with it.”
Every day I wonder how would I respond to such a crisis? Could I survive? Would I have the same strength and bravery as these women are showing? I fear I would fail miserably.
I have always thought women are the stronger sex. I didn’t say better, but I did say stronger and I believe that.
Women just quite simply make the world, as ugly as it can be, more beautiful.
Through a well-raised child, a job well done, a beautiful song, a bountiful garden, a word of encouragement or in these uncertain times by taking part in a war effort — by picking up a rifle or stirring up a pot of soup — women make a difference.
We don’t know how all of this will end, but whenever and however it does end, I will never forget the women.
And with that, happy International Women’s Day.