Tomorrow the world celebrates the International Women's Day and that made me sit and think for hours what to write about. I am a Finnish woman, and yes, I am a feminist. My Finnish mother is a loud feminist too, and so is every woman, and almost every man, from my Finnish family. But then my thoughts went to my foreign husband. He was raised in a patriarchal system or a country, so why is he a feminist? I have so many stories of people fighting for women's rights around the world, but this one story I once heard came to me and I thought of sharing it with you.
Once upon a time (a very true story) a little girl was born into a very poor family in a state on the Persian Gulf. When she turned 7 and was ready for school, she was told that she needs to sacrifice her studies to take care of the house and her younger siblings, because her parents had to work daily from 6:00 to midnight. Lucky for her that her grandparents lived just few doors away. Everyday after cleaning their simple home which was made of mud, hay and dried palm trees' leaves, she left with her siblings to her grandparents' home to spend the day helping in cooking and cleaning with her grandmother. But then she also had free hours to spend and so she sat next to her grandfather who was always reciting books of philosophers and prayers for her loudly, which he has memorised. She was a sponge and memorised them all.
Years passed, she is 10 years old now and they have moved far away from her grandparents to be closer to her parents' workplaces. She cleans the house daily, cooks, and carries out all the chores and then helps her siblings to get ready for school, checks if her elder neighbours need her help to run any chores for them, and then takes care of her siblings when they are back home from school. But you can still hear her reciting what she has learned from her grandfather while working around the house. She is happy to have sacrificed her education for her other 4 sisters and brother to receive theirs. She says, "Even though I never had a blanket at my father's house and used a carpet instead in the cold nights and shared my bed with my sisters and brother I never felt sad, my father and mother never disrespected me or made me feel I am less than my educated siblings!"
Now where our young heroine is staying, she finds that under the stairs of that big house lives a homeless woman that is fed 3 times a day by her in-laws. She finds out that the house never empties of people in need as they come for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. She asks her sister-in-law why does her father-in-law help all these people, and she answers "My father respects and loves my mother so much that whatever she asks for is done in this house, and my mother's only wish is to help all the people who are in need, especially women."
Days came and passed, and our heroine is now a mother of three boys and has her own house with her loving husband. The husband works 6 days a week 12 hours a day and so she needs to learn how to drive to be able to move. And she dedicates her time for house chores, taking her eldest to school and going out to dedicating her free time in helping others who needed her help. So, if she hears of a woman that has just given birth in a poor house, she takes with her bags of groceries and food that lasts for days and goes to visit that mother. And if she would hear that someone lost her husband, she goes with 1/2 of the food she has cooked for her family, to take it to the woman in mourning telling her that she is not alone. And yes, she still manages to fit time to see her sisters, brother, and parents few days a week and help them in their cooking and housekeeping too. But what no one expected is that she is learning how to read and write by revising with her son his daily lessons when he comes home from school.
She is now on the phone at 6:00 with her husband. "So you are at the hospital?" The husband asks. "Yes, my dear! I called to wake you up for work. I have put your breakfast in the oven and ironed your clothes ready. I will be here until he gets his chemo for the day, but I will be home by the time the boys get back from school." She answers. Our heroine makes sure that each of the 5 boys have all the love that they need, even though her soul and mind were suffering and worrying that her little one will not make it out of leukaemia. But he made it!
And once again she moves away from home, this time to Malaysia, again as a support for her husband's studies. Now she is a mother of 6 boys and soon pregnant with her 7th. She spends her days learning the Malay, supporting her youngest 3 in school and home, and of course, helping neighbours in their daily lives. But this time she is not able to continue her stay, she has to cut it short and return back home early with her complicated pregnancy.
Some years passed, and she is a proud mother of five university graduated men, of which four got married. She has 7 grandchildren and makes sure to remind her sons to treat their daughters as good as their sons. Soon after the fourth daughter- in - law joined the family the 5th and 6th followed. She still goes around when she hears of someone needing help. She still takes care of that prayer place and she is available 24/7 on her phone in case someone needed her help.
I heard her say once (she didn't know that I was listening) "I don't want to ever hear your wife complain of you not helping her, or that you are standing against her progress! I do not ever want to hear a woman having a broken heart because I didn't raise my son to disrespect women! Remember, your wife before you make any selfish decisions, and never forget that your daughter is as equal to your son!" I realised that day that my self-educated, loving, surviving mother-in-law is a feminist, maybe not as loud as my Finnish friends and family, but in her own way she really is.
Yes, I know many highly educated feminist women and men... But I also know few that never got education, never had the chances the others had, yet they protect the rights of women without even thinking about it. Those women don't even know what feminism means, but from my mother-in-law I understood that feminism does not come by education, but by raising children to know that women are as worthy as men and they all have the same rights and deserve as equal respect.
Many must think after reading this amazing woman's story "What a sad story! Because she only gave to others and never got anything in return!" At least I thought that when I first got to know her! But I realised by time how much she is loved, her life is filled with people with great memories because of her, she changed many minds and ways of thinking by only doing good, she raised 7 loving respectful men and has very loving siblings that call her weekly. And she has a proud husband who have been there for her for over 50 years. I have to say that am so proud to be her daughter-in-law and a woman.
Happy Women's Day to every woman in this world
Ajatuksia ja kokemuksia elämästä kahden kulttuurin keskellä.
Toivotamme sinut lämpimästi tervetulleeksi osallistumaan blogiyhteisöömme: lue, kommentoi ja kirjoita!
Kirjoittajina voivat toimia kaikki kahden kulttuurin arkea elävät ja aiheesta kiinnostuneet. Kynnystä kirjoittamiselle ei tule nostaa liian korkealle ja kirjoittaa voi joko omalla nimellä tai nimimerkillä.
Blogissa esitetyt näkökannat ja mielipiteet ovat kirjoittajien omia, eivätkä edusta Familian kantaa.
Kahden kulttuurin arki on itsessään kiinnostavaa ja siitä kirjoittaminen voi avata myös itselle uusia näkökulmia!
Blogikirjoituksia voi tarjota sähköpostitse (info @ familiary.fi) tai yhteydenottolomakkeen kautta. Lopullisen valinnan julkaistavista jutuista tekee Familian henkilökunta.