Ironically International Women’s Day is not just about women. It’s also about boys and men. And helping everyone understand why we have a day dedicated to celebrating women all over the world. Let me emphasise that by celebrating women we are not denigrating men. No, it’s not about that. But for a long time, women were seen as the lesser species, the weaker gender, the soft ones. However that couldn’t be further from reality and society has been evolving and recognising the truth. That women – our mothers, grandmothers, sisters, wives, daughters, girlfriends – are whatever the hell they want to be.
I was pretty lucky. I was one of three girls. Both my mum and my dad were my heroes. They gave me the space and encouragement to pursue whatever made me happy in life. They never made me feel like I couldn’t achieve something if I set my mind to it. Athlete, Engineer, Business Owner, Mother; the list will keep growing. I had the support I needed growing up and I have the support I need in my own family now.
I stand alongside my husband and business partner Nick as we run our taekwondo, boxing and fitness gym, Club Titans together. I kick, I box, I run and I teach. I teach boys and girls, I teach men and women. My gender isn’t important because I don’t let it be. This is as it should be for all people. Don’t choose not to participate because you are female, choose to participate because you want to and to hell with anyone that doesn’t agree.
Raising strong girls is important. Raising girls who believe they can do anything they put their mind to, is essential. But I’m raising boys. And raising boys to respect girls and females and support them is equally important. That means educating them on those small harmful things like those little sayings of ‘you throw like a girl’ or ‘cry like a girl’ or ‘harden up princess’, or encouraging them to watch female sport.
I know society is changing. I see it everyday at Titans. We hold training camps at Titans for both male Football Teams and female Football Teams, we have male boxers and female boxers – and it’s the same training and treatment for everybody – regardless of gender. An athlete is an athlete. Full stop. Approximately 40% of our taekwondo students (children and adults) are female. Some classes are majority female, in particular my Adult Beginners taekwondo class. This is a class dominated by women all over 30 years old, with kids and careers. They have started a martial art for themselves, no longer held back by gender norms, age barriers or ability concerns. It’s empowering, it’s exciting and it’s the best kind of role modelling there is. For their children, for other adults out there that have sat on the sidelines all their life and for women who want to feel free to be strong, empowered and happy.
And that’s what we need to keep evolving as a society where women and men are considered equal. Role models. Role models don’t have to be elite sportswomen. They don’t have to be leaders in society. They just need to be women or girls leading by example. Inspiring and showing others how to live, how to push the barriers, how to stand up for themselves, create the same opportunities and stand beside or in front of men. Because that is what equality is. It’s standing beside each other, not behind. So today on International Women’s Day – Women of the world – Please step forward.