A little bit of International Women’s Day – Anna Spargo-Ryan

A little bit of International Women’s Day

A little bit of International Women’s Day

To the exceptional women I am lucky to call my family:

My nan

We are now 12 long years without you. You remain the most courageous woman I have ever known. At 26, in a post-war recession, you became husbandless. You never remarried. You took those children – also women – and taught them how to be good people. You lost one of them. You nurtured a whole family of strong women. You were our rudder.

As a teenager, I sat with you while your arthritic hands knitted toys for foster children. I watched you give hope and faith to people around you who had it so much better than you, who had lived easier lives than you. You never wavered. You only knew how to give love, never spite. You were stoic, but never cold.

We all miss you, but see you in the women you raised.

My nanna

Womanhood has brought you pain. It has limited your life. It has diminished your joy.

You are so strong. You have buried a child. You have been widowed. You have worked the land. You have cried for the mercy of a man who did not value women, but who you remained loyal to for sixty-two years.

You are much more than you were ever given credit for being. I hope that I tell you often enough.

My mother

Could I be any more fortunate in the universe’s choice of mother for me? You are extraordinary. I’ve never heard you say “I can’t” or “I shouldn’t”. You just grabbed your life by its sweaty balls and forced it to give you more than it did. When your father told you that women shouldn’t go to university, you turned on your heel and you prepared children’s bodies for autopsy to pay your way through law school. When that wasn’t special enough, you did it with three kids in tow.

And when that wasn’t enough, you thought ‘fuck it’ and decided to be at the forefront of gender quality in corporate Australia. You carved out a path for women like you. You became an inspiration to so many.

But with humility. You think you are unspectacular.

You could not be more wrong.

My small children.

There are so many things about you that are remarkable. You are smart, quick witted, funny and clever. You are insightful, empathetic, generous of self and thoughtful. You are strong willed, determined, big hearted and ambitious.

You are women.

Unfortunately despite the best efforts of other women who came before you – and me – we still live in a world where you may be hindered by being a woman. People may overlook you. People may take credit for your hard work. People may consider you less valid. People may make baseless judgements about you. People may belittle you.

It will never be because of who you are; it will be because of who they are.

You have qualities that they could never hope to have. Hell, you have qualities that I aspire to. You are an inspiration. You are a wonder.

We have progressed.

I know you will show them all what we are capable of.

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