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Natalia Horstmann, Director of Communications, research center Applied Medicine (CIMA), University of Navarra, Spain.

Woman is feminine plural

Tue, 09 Mar 2010 12:58:26 +0000 Published in Newspaper (Navarra)

I'm not a big believer in international days. I prefer normal days because they seem more authentic to me. Even so, I would like to take advantage of Working Women's Day to share a reflection open to a thousand nuances because how many ways are there to reconcile family life and work? At least as many as there are women and life situations: single, married, with children, without them, working at home or outside, at workshop full or part-time...

Even in the same woman, her status changes over time. Of course, in men too. My concerns and priorities in my first work are quite different from those I have today. Without going any further, I have just put my children to bed and this is the ideal moment to take stock of the important things that, when you think about it, are neither many nor are they things. True success - a dangerous word - perhaps has more to do with life than with the curriculum. And it is core topic, to achieve it, to choose well what we give up.

In my case, something as apparently useful as knowing languages or having a degree program, would be of no use to me if I had to wear myself out surrounded by a poor working environment. There is no point in aiming high on work, if this would unbalance my staff or family life. Is it also up to us to achieve life balance and harmonious cooperation? We women can and must make progress in our ability to integrate men into our family life so that they, to the same extent, welcome us into their working life. Hence the importance of having bosses who are sensitive to their own work-life balance and that of their female employees, as well as husbands who are involved in managing a family as a duo. Fortunately, more and more women are having this double fortune.

It is now 100 years since International Working Women's Day was recognized and, although many injustices still call for our persistent commitment, today we can celebrate great advances that result in a more prosperous society. The social development owes much to men and much to women. The scientific field is a good sample. The category of a finding is not measured by the sex of its discoverer. Women working in the CIMA account for 65% of the entire staff of this research center. This being a measurable and positive fact for us, we should not draw the wrong conclusions. Therefore, I doubt that imposing quotas of men and women is the core topic. Facing the Education of our sons and daughters with a more open and creative approach that allows us to detect and promote their best and authentic qualities as soon as possible would perhaps make it easier for each and every one of them to occupy their position for a better service to the community.

It seems to me very risky to speak of "the woman" in this way, in the feminine singular. Of course, it is feminine, but very plural. And although I can only offer minimal brushstrokes of that plurality, I would also like to refer to many women, as hardworking as I am, or more, who will never write in the newspaper or lead manifestos for posterity, but whose dignity deserves our recognition. They work taking care of other people's homes so that other women can, at least, try to achieve the desired reconciliation. Why resign ourselves to consider this harmony as utopian?

I believe in equal opportunities between men and women, but not in mathematics to level the enrichingly different. If a man were to write this article, he would probably highlight other aspects, also interesting. And, no doubt, the perceptions of men and women reading it will cover a wide spectrum. And this is the best part.