Yesterday, the UN foundation ‘s campaign on #equaleverywhere was launched. As a Social Good Connector, I have known about it for a while and thought about what I wanted to do around it. I thought about doing an interview to showcase how far we’ve gotten. I thought about showcasing a female entrepreneur. But I decided to take another perspective and another route – a messy, hard, and honest route through your maternal mothers. And I challenge you to open up to be #equaleverywhere too.
I want to talk about the first women – from a personal perspective. The first from MY family. And I want to pose the question: ‘Have you ever thought about, you could be the first woman who did something in your family?’.
I am #equaleverywhere
Take my sweet ass as an example. I was the first woman in my family who stood up about my inner destructor. About my whole self, my fuckedupness, about my hurt, about my shadow side, my abuse, conflicts. And I was the first woman who said ‘enough’. I don’t have to hide my shadow. I will find it just like Peter Pan, and I will glue it back on with soap (Peter Pan style, of course). In my family, I was the first person (not a woman) who got through college. And I was the first who was a paid board member before I was thirty. I also wrote and self-published a book before I was thirty – a piece of art that I crafted and showed to the world.
I was the first woman of my family to create a ‘brand studio’, Toothless Tiger. A company I lived fairly well off, for 12 years. I was the first woman in my family that realized by the age of 40 that I didn’t need anyone else to make me happy, apart from myself. Everything else was a magic addition, a choice. I was the first woman in my family who could be financially independent and could own a house on my own.
My Mother – The World Traveler.
My mother was the first woman who took a tech education in my family, though it would be seen as “low-tech” these days. She was a telegraphist and she sailed the 7 seas, in the 1970s. She was also a woman who was beaten by her father for showing off – or as I would say, for being more than him. My mother was the first woman in my family to own a house on her own – bought it in cash when she came home from traveling the world as a telegraphist.
My Grandmother – My Most Nostalgic Childhood Memory.
She was very special. She died at an early age partly because her husband didn’t want to stop smoking his 60 cigarettes a day, inside of their apartment. Her alcoholic husband had always beaten her, but she STILL held space for me, my brother and mother. She lived her life in the center of the storm, with every breath that came to her. I think for the most part she was happy. She was really good at dancing – especially to 50s music.
My Great-Grandmother – So Special To Me.
She was born in the 1910s and she lived until 2003. Her mother was a spiritualist and a suffragette. Anyway, she had all the technological advancements the world had seen. Well, maybe not the last technological era of smartphones but a LOT of stuff happened in her lifetime – First World War (she was a baby though), and 2nd world war where her husband hid parachutes and guns in their garden (now my garden), without telling her. Happy she didn’t know about it, because then she might have been shot by the German soldiers. The 50’s. A man on the moon. She was also the certainty in my childhood, what I always could count on would catch me.
I was so protective of her and there are so many great memories of her. Her old soft skin on her lower arms at 90. Her favorite ring. Decorations from the 2nd world war of her as a freedom fighter. I still can’t talk about the last time I saw her without crying. She had dementia and she was 93. I lived in London and knew this was the last time I would see her. My brother and I drove her to the hospital to have her checkup and she wasn’t present apart from 5 seconds where she looked at me and my brother asking us what we were doing there, laughing a bit. Telling us how much she loved us. Told us she was proud of us and she wanted us to be happy and that was the last time I talked to her.
Why is it important to be #equaleverywhere?
I think the stories of the past are vastly represented in our present. The ‘women in tech’ represented in my mother are also represented in me. All the women before me were the first at something. All of them struggled with a life they were boxed into – and I truly believe that we, as women, are the first real generation with real choices to do whatever we want. So do that! Create your magic. Build your own world – but remember you have the privilege – both because of who came before you, but also because of everything else.
Me? I am a white, curly, Viking shieldmaiden in the richest part of the world, that’s a privilege I refuse to take for granted. You could use that privilege to gather people around you, to build a movement – to influence the women before you and the women after you. Make the world better with all the tools you’ve got. Give people the best opportunities for advancement, equality, and sustainability and make the world a better place by being #equaleverywhere.