Six years ago today I walked out of my office from a career I loved and never went back. It seems incredibly appropriate that my maternity leave and what I knew to be my last day there was marked by International Women's Day.
Over the months building up to that moment I had been questioned about my decision-making ability, told I wouldn't have a job to come back to and kindly informed that it didn't matter anyway because "women produce a hormone that means they don't want to return to work after having a baby."
That didn't even scratch the surface of what went on in that business. My colleague and I were the only women working there; our employer outrightly laughed when we asked for locks on the cubicle doors to the women's toilets, sanitary bins and soap. He thought we were joking for wanting basic sanitary requirements to go have a wee.
When I read about the Uber engineer story, it was a huge flashback to my colleague being told she needed to 'impress' someone who was systematically undermining her work and bullying her in full view of the company and quite often, her clients.
It was a work environment that beggars belief but frankly, my story isn't a one-off or rare occurance. This isn't the outlier or exception to the rule, this is more frequently the rule and experience of what young women are putting up with to carve out a career.
I'm older and wiser these days, I work for myself and while my toilet door lock is defunct it is because my children barge in all the time as I work from home. I talk to women who run their own businesses on a regular basis and are successful in providing for themselves and their families. I draw strength and inspiration from them and my life 6 years ago seems nothing more than a bad dream which happened to someone else.
You may be wondering what place International Women's Day has on a craft blog but these amazing women who dye yarn, make notions, create pins, badges, knit and sew are all taking a very domestic hobby and turning it into some amazing businesses. We knit pussy hats to show support for women who've had their human rights removed, abused or just not had any in the first place. We are using our position of priviledge to affect changes in the world.
Every time you craft in public, you are making a small change in the world. You are making space for yourself in the outside world, expressing yourself, saying no to fitting your body to clothes and making clothes fit your body instead. You are declining mass-produced products made in sweat shops at the expense of women and instead supporting women who are in turn supporting their families. You may not even realise you are doing it, but you are. You might not even care and that's fine too. But even through the hobby, the fun, the something to do of an evening you are, whether you know it or not, creating small waves and changing the world one bit at a time.
I posted today that I hoped one day we wouldn't need an International Women's Day. I can't see that happening in my lifetime but you never know what may come in my children's. Until that point, I heartily give you all reading this, man or woman, a huge IWD hug and high five.
(Photo by Yarnistry: Pussy Hat pin)