Women around the world earn significantly less than men, even when doing the exact same jobs. Probably the most valuable work women do is child rearing, which is totally unpaid and underappreciated in our western societies. How can we rectify this situation and make it fair for all?
It strikes me that we need to begin by valuing ourselves. Women have not been fully valued in society for much of history – we’ve been living in a man’s world. The tide is slowly turning, we have come a long way; in most countries we have the right to vote, the right to education, the right to work, the right to choose who we spend our life with. But within all of us there is work yet to be done. We must start within. We cannot expect others to value us until we value ourselves.
In a practical sense, that means tuning in and checking in with yourself for all kinds of things. Are you taking on too much to keep everybody happy? That is not valuing yourself. Do you have difficultly saying No? Are you bending over backwards in work? Are you last on the list at home for everything? Do you feel overstretched, dealing with too many demands? All signs you are probably not valuing yourself, counting yourself as important in the picture.
So, what does it mean to value yourself?
To me, it means to trust yourself. To listen to yourself. To honour yourself. To live by what feels right for you. To take action in line with your highest sense of self. Simply put, to count yourself as equally as important as anyone else. Not more important, or less important, just with equal respect for yourself and others. When someone asks ‘What do you think?” or “What do you want?” it means you need to check within and answer from yourself. Rather than people-pleasing, going along with the crowd, saying what you think people want to hear. Culturally, girls learn at an early age to be nice, polite, to fall in line and follow the rules and worry about what other people think. This is not serving us as women. Instead of automatically answering, pause and check-in with yourself. ‘How do I really feel about this?’ “What feels right for me?” “What do I think?” “What do I want?” and “What do I need?” It doesn’t mean we then force this onto others – but it is important to have our say, to be counted. By listening first to our self and respecting ourselves, we are more likely to listen to and respect each other. Very often, I’ve found that when we listen to and respect our own self, it is like drawing an invisible line in the sand that people instinctively don’t cross – they read it off us and respect us accordingly. The change happens inside us first and then that change can be reflected in the world. Begin now. Be the change you want to see in the world. Value yourself.