Me.Now. is proud to celebrate International Women’s Day (IWD) with our weekly blog post! I am the product of 3 generations of dedicated, high-achieving women and I am hopeful that I will get the opportunity to raise a daughter to carry that proud heritage forward. IWD is committed to the goal of full gender equality for women around the world. Like IWD, Me.Now. recognizes that the only future worth pursuing is one where gender equality is beyond question.
IWD’s commitment to gender equality started in 1908 when a group of 15,000 women rallied in New York to demand voting rights, better pay and healthy work conditions. 109 years later, IWD’s goal for gender equality still has not been reached – but it is getting closer. IWD exemplifies the perseverance and the unstoppable progress that can be achieved when courage and commitment meet. Me.Now. strives to emulate the community and encouragement shared by IWD and millions of women around the world.
My father died when I was a toddler. I have no memories of him. My memories are of my mother and grandmother, who raised me together until I was 5 years old. While I admit to having the cultural advantage of being the first-born boy in a Hispanic family, my childhood was framed by responsibility and independence as much as it was by hugs and kisses. My mother and grandmother were the picture of discipline and determination. My mom, an Air Force veteran and widow, worked two unskilled jobs to support the two of us. My grandmother was born in Mexico and worked as a small business book-keeper in Arizona to build her English skills and raise her family as proud, first-generation Americans. Growing up with these two women as my guides, I had to learn to dress myself, feed myself, and care for myself from a very young age while they worked countless hours to break through cultural and gender stereotypes in the early 1980s to earn a living wage. I could not have asked for better examples of courage and ambition than my mother and my grandmother.
My mom has two sisters and one brother. In a funny coincidence, she went on herself to have two daughters and one son. Every woman in my family, from my youngest sister to my oldest aunt, fosters the tenacity and fearlessness of my mother and grandmother. As a result, our family gets to celebrate the stories of these women – all of them educated, self-made successes – and see first-hand how ignorant stereotypes crumble in their wake. Even more valuable, the men in our family have the benefit of growing up from a foundation of gender equality. A foundation paved by 109 years of courage.
My son will never know bias against women until he encounters it from his peers. When that day comes, I can only hope his mother, grandmother, great-grandmother and father have prepared him to reject sexism, advocate for equality, and advance our world to a better tomorrow.