When I found out that today was International Day of the Girl a smile came across my face. I felt empowered. Excited. Valued. I know it's not a day just for me, so before you think I am letting my ego take over, please let me explain.
I currently go to a co-ed school, coincidentally an all-girls school at the moment. At first, I found it odd that only women were enrolled in Burren College of Art's programs for this semester. I wondered why men weren't interested or accepted into the program. I also wondered how it may change my learning environment. I have gone to school with people of all genders my entire life, and after just over a month at BCA I will admit going to a school with only girls has its perks!
The women surrounding me on a daily basis are diverse in their backgrounds, perspectives, personalities, personal styles, lifestyles, and interests. They are nerds and bad-asses, trendy and grungy, with partners and single, powerful and tender...most importantly they are authentic, intelligent, talented, inspiring artists (and individuals) who create a motivating and encouraging environment to live and learn.
During lunch today, I asked a few of the "girls" why they felt proud to be a girl. Zola, quickly responded with "Everything." Implying she was proud of every aspect of girlhood. She expanded upon her all-encompassing statement in commenting that she was proud of "a capacity to learn and listen to other women without competitiveness" and "to accept that there are multiple genders outside of the binary."
Sydney also chimed in, adding "I see feminine personalities as more emotionally intelligent." She was not criticizing men and acknowledges that feminity can be present in any gender. In addition to pride in emotional intelligence of girls, she also commented on the beautiful and incredible ability of female bodies in the production of human life. Brooke added that she is proud of the diversity of femininity. There are no longer strict guidelines on how one is or must be feminine. They also shared with me what females in their life they look up to most. Katie and Zola said their mom, Sydney her twin sister, and Brooke shared that she had many strong female figures in her life.
It was nice reflecting over lunch on our gratitude for being women. I recognize there are still certain privileges that I will never encounter based on my female identity, but I am grateful for the work many females who came before me did in order to broaden my opportunities as a female.
A few points of gratitude that I'd like to highlight:
I am grateful to live in a society where I am not expected to cook as a part of fulfilling my role as a woman. Though I LOVE to cook and experiment with food.
I am grateful for the opportunity for education. Not only in the general sense but for being given the opportunity to pursue higher education through undergraduate and graduate programs.
I am grateful that my VOTE is valued as is the vote of my male counterparts.
I am grateful for the rights of my own body. I can exercise in ways that may have been "unfit for a lady in the past." I also have reproductive rights and jurisdiction over the use of my body as a sexual object.
I am grateful that I identify with the gender I was biologically given. I recognize the privilege I have in that sense. For all the girls that weren't born biologically female...I hope you felt loved, respected, and celebrated today.
Most of all, I am grateful for the choices and opportunities I have as a woman of 2017 and am hopeful that future generations of girls have even more than I do.
I am so grateful for all the wonderful women in my life--all around the world. Cheers to being a girl!