OpinionsNeedles in a StackInternational Women’s Day: Should we celebrate?

International Women’s Day: Should we celebrate?


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International Women’s Day will be celebrated on March 8, as it has been for many years. It is a celebration of women’s political, economic and social achievements, a reminder that despite the fact that women have many rights that were previously denied them (voting, education, equal rights), there are still important things to be done.

Women are oppressed and suffering in many countries; here in the Philippines, some of the most pressing issues are the freedom to divorce, and reproductive choice.

When I was young, I always dreamed of getting married and having children. I pictured myself as a great mom with several kids. But when I got married, I changed my mind. I like children, and I enjoy spending time with them, but I’m not up to the task of raising them. I just felt I wasn’t the kind of person who could dedicate myself sufficiently to meeting their needs.

Frankly, I’m too lazy, too self-involved, and I have too many unresolved issues of my own. Luckily, I married a man who had a similar point of view on this question. My husband and I have owned this decision, with no regrets, at least not so far.

Of course, many people, including relatives, have questioned our decision not to have children. Some have even said that it was “selfish” of me not to have children. My question is, selfish with respect to whom? A potential human being, who does not exist?

Or perhaps they resent me depriving them of the right to visit with and enjoy my children, and perhaps if they think that through, they will see they are the ones being selfish, wanting me to decide to bring a human being into this world solely to gratify their emotional needs.

Some men and women choose childbirth with joy, and I applaud them. But not every woman is destined to be a good mother.

I also don’t believe that child-birth is the “natural” course for women, i.e., that it should be the norm or that refraining from doing it should be considered deviant.

But in order for it to be a choice as opposed to an accident or a mere matter of course, women, especially young women, need to have easy, judgment-free access to birth control, so that they can decide whether to reproduce and when.

Women’s choices must be respected, whichever way they decide, as long as the decision is right for them, and right for their children.

Of course, not everything in life can be planned, but if our goal as a society is to prevent needless suffering, we should exercise control and choose our paths wisely.

Unfortunately, young people become able to bear children before they become wise, and so they need guidance from their elders and from society at large.

We must encourage them to take control of their own lives, and we must make birth control options freely available so that in the event that moral instruction about abstaining from sex doesn’t “take,” at least their lives are not shattered by an early unplanned pregnancy, which may well make it impossible for them to raise themselves out of poverty by completing their education.

Women’s choices should be respected, and child-rearing should be a choice, not an obligation or an accident.

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