International Women's Day Breakfast

To mark and celebrate International Women’s Day Prem hosted a breakfast. Both Aj.Rachel and Grade 12 student Detchen offered their thoughts in speeches. Aj.Rachel offered the imprecation that  ” to celebrate true equality of men and women, then women need to give other women confidence to stand tall, and speak loudly….”


We post Detchen’s speech here in full and hope her words  ‘speak loudly’ to inspire those who were unable to attend:

“When I was about 10 years old, I nonchalantly asked my mother whether she wanted a girl or boy. She told me that she would have actually liked to have boys. I pretended to be offended by her answer because she currently has two daughters, me and my older sister. My mother then talked about how along with my older sister, I was supposed to have older brothers, in fact, twin older brothers. But unfortunately, my mother lost them to miscarriage. Sometimes I do wonder if I would be even here if my mother had given birth to her two baby boys. 


I, of course, asked her why she preferred boys over girls. To put it briefly, she said that girls have it harder in this world than guys do and even at this stage in life, I didn’t question it. My mother is very passionate about talking to me about the real world. She never filtered or avoided topics that were seen as controversial. So naturally I was able to understand what she meant by it. Throughout my pre teenage years to my current years, I have continuously been disappointed by what the world has to offer for women. I  was disappointed when I learned that one of the Japanese princesses would be losing her status just because she married a common man, but the opposite would never be true. And how in some countries, women would not be allowed in the kitchen when they are menstruating because it is seen as inappropriate or to put it harshly, disgusting. Naturally, I thought, why is it so unfair? We’re all human, aren’t we? But that was when I was only 10 years old. As a young girl, I only thought that it would be so easy to just compromise and live as equals. It’s wishful thinking but I do believe that it’s not a bad thing for young girls to believe that. To believe that this world has a place for women and girls. 


I grew up being told that I wasn’t girly enough or I acted too much like a boy. But probably the most insulting words I was told as an eleven-year-old, was that I shouldn’t express myself because girls should just back off. I do believe I have a strong personality because I will express my opinions when I think I should say something because that is what my mother taught me. Which may come off surprising considering the fact that my mother is a Japanese. I am fortunate enough to have parents that look past their cultural heritages and differences and teach me what is truly the right thing in the world. But at such a young age, I was obviously hurt by the things that people told me, that I was too tough, or I needed to tone down my personality. The most memorable one is when I was asked why I don’t cry because girls should be sensitive. And yes, this was said to me by a female teacher.


Now, when i look back at it, I wonder if it’s just the difference in our years of living that changes our perspective on this matter. I was twelve when I was told that but she had lived far more than I have. So, I think that no matter how much I read about the histories or works of literature, I don’t think I would ever be able to understand to the deepest core level about what had happened to women in the past. And I don’t mean this in a negative way, we are currently living in an era where the act of feminism is seen as hating on men, or that feminism is not about equality anymore. This is what me and my generation are currently understanding. 


My Japanese grandmother, who was born in Japan during the second world war and experienced her youth post-war, went through something that I would never be able to understand and honestly don’t even want to. My grandmother is now 86, she is probably the most talented person I know, she knows how to do almost anything, and when I mean anything, it’s to the point of sewing her own kimono and making her own jewellery. But one simple ‘no’ from her father and her dreams of moving to Tokyo to pursue her dreams were shattered. And in that day and age, she obviously couldn’t even say anything back. 


But right now we can. We have a voice right now because of the generations that came before us, even though we have not reached the peak satisfaction of where we want to get to, we are walking towards it. Women are constantly proving themselves on a daily basis that we are if not the same, we are as powerful as men are. Women of influence are not afraid to express directly their feelings towards feminism. And despite the fact that feminism has gained its unpopularity of deeming it as a way to hate on men, or become above men, we need to constantly reiterate why we are here. 


There are actual people out there who believe that inequality doesn’t exist, that women are just playing the victim. And it’s sad to say that some of these words come from women themselves, but I know that the proportion of women who believe that are so small in number that it’s miniscule to the rest of us who know what we’re fighting for. We can always try to show them the reality of the world we live in and how much we need to support each other because at the end of the day, we only have each other. But sometimes,maybe no matter how much we try, those people will never understand what it is that we are trying to achieve. Equality. Equality above anything else. Equality is showing that we too can be the boss of a company, equality is showing that we too can become president, equality is showing that a woman can influence over thousands people to register to vote against those that bring us down, but it’s also about showing that at the end of the day we women are human. Deep past our hormonal differences and our chromosome structure, we are only human. 


This misconception that feminism is a weapon that aims to take men down needs to stop. Not everyone can understand that, whether that’s because of the kind of environment they grow up in or cultural differences. But that is the beauty of this whole journey towards getting rid of gender bias and fighting for women’s rights. It’s the fact that we as women and girls have each others backs. And yes, we all have our differences and will at times not be able to completely agree with each other but we have the power in our hands together as women to bring change for ourselves, for the people that brought us this change, and for the future. 


This is why we have to actively show that this isn’t about who is better, who can be on the top, it’s about how all of us can be on the top”. 


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