By Cecile Beaufils, One Gin Co-Founder
March is a month that starts with International Women’s Day and ends with Mother’s Day – a month to celebrate exceptional, inspirational women, not just on these particular days but every day. To celebrate the women who are changing the world, but also the women who keep going every day, who juggle careers and motherhood, who find strength to carry on with the endless, dull multi-tasking and do this without asking for glory or recognition.
I am the very proud (and tired!) mother of two little girls. On the way to school this morning, I told them about International Women’s Day and what an important day it is. One of them asked why there wasn’t a ‘gentleman’s day’ which I thought was a very good question. ‘The reason’ I explained ‘is that, where we live, women and men tend to have ‘similar’ rights and to be able to do the same things, but this is far from the case in other parts of the world’.
And this made me reflect on what I do: I work for a brand that was founded to fund water projects in the world’s poorest communities. To date, the One brand has raised £19 million to our foundation and we have helped change 3.6 million people’s lives.
The trouble is that it is very easy for these figures – which are so huge – to become meaningless. What it means in real terms is that women in the African countries we work with don’t have to spend up to 3 hours each way – every day – walking in scorching heat to get water for their families, breaking their backs in the process. That they can start to work as a result. That their children can go to school. Women like Rosa who is a grandmother in one of the informal settlements in Nairobi can have an income working in a water kiosk, and be able to spend time raising healthy children and grandchildren who may get a chance to break the cycle of poverty they were brought up in. It’s a pretty big thing to think that in our small way we can empower women like her to change their and their family’s future.
This month, and in the lead up to Mother’s Day, we will celebrate not only our genetic mothers but all those women here and everywhere in the world that have been spiritual mothers in some way….Grandmothers like Rosa, aunts, sisters, friends, and mentors. Those women who just don’t take no for an answer, who keep going, who encourage us to be better people and pick us up when we are not. I don’t think we do enough thanking in our day to day lives and whilst we have so much thanking to do for the women who brought us up, changed hundreds of nappies, fed us, and dried our tears, let’s not forget that wider circle of role models who lead by example. Interestingly, the Oxford dictionary’s definition of ‘mother’ is to ‘bring up with care and affection’ first and only second does it mean to ‘give birth to’. Michelle Obama, one of my heroes, makes a point of saying that it was her mother but also her great-aunt Robbie and her grandmother who made her who she is today. And they’ve done a pretty good job.
So let’s start thinking about who we could thank and celebrate this month, women who are mothers to us in the wider sense of the word. A bit of recognition goes a long way. I for one have a lot of thanking to do.