March 8th is International Women’s Day.
I meant to write this blog post then (which obviously didn’t happen) to celebrate the work of some of the passionate and intelligent women I have come across here in Boston. I have had the privilege to work with some amazing women right here in Cambridge, across Boston, and all over the country with Bread for the World. One thing I’ve noticed is cooperation and compassion. Women working together just get things done, it’s as simple as that.
A couple of weeks ago I was invited to join a steering committee for a new coalition focused on hunger issues in Cambridge. I was honored and excited to join, especially since I recognized every name and organization on the list of who was involved. (Volunteering all over Cambridge and constantly explaining myself and my job to strangers is starting to pay off.)
When we all sat down for the first meeting we acknowledged and joked that it was a group of women, and that we liked it that way. We discussed current statistics, conditions, and services in Cambridge and how we can get people and organizations to work together better. It was a little intimidating to be sitting around the table with women who founded/are running some great food nonprofits and to be treated like an equal. There was great conversation, laughter, and an undercurrent of outrage that hunger is still a problem in our community. People bounced ideas off of each other, supported and encouraged each other and their work, and were intentional to make sure everyone got to participate in the discussion and share their opinion.
I left the meeting encouraged and empowered to be involved in such a group with such an important cause.
The next meeting with a table of women that I encountered was the following week in a nursing home/rehabilitation center. I was shadowing a woman from my church who is a speech pathologist and specializes in eating and swallowing issues. (I learned a lot of about what she does and what some people have to go through on a daily basis just to drink water, but that is another post for another time.) During lunch we joined the weekly meeting of occupational and physical therapists as they discussed patients and their recommendations for treatment. Even though I was definitely out of my element and more of a fly on the wall, I could tell how passionate these women are about caring for their patients. They truly sympathize with them in their struggles and share in their joy when they improve. I was so impressed with their commitment to doing such trying, and sometimes defeating, work day in and day out.
So many of the groups and nonprofits we’ve been working with here in Boston are run and made up of mostly women. Chalk it up to socialization and the corporate glass ceiling, but women working together seem particularly adept in solving problems and getting things done, with compassion and integrity. These women are not only smart, but they have a heart for social justice.
It’s like that old saying… “Give a man a fish and he’ll eat for a day. Teach a man to fish and he’ll eat for a lifetime. Teach a woman to fish and she’ll feed the whole village.”