With Mother’s Day approaching, it is important to appreciate the female figures who inspire and guide us in our everyday lives, especially mothers. Many women of wisdom are mothers who work for their communities with no expectation to be rewarded. Who are the wise women in your life? Maybe an elderly neighbour who hosts fundraising events for charity, or a close girlfriend who always has advise to offer. These women often go unnoticed or unappreciated, and I believe they should be acknowledged during this celebration.
Earlier this year, I embarked on a trip around Greece, the historical capital of Europe. I didn’t know what to expect when my daughter waxed lyrical about the tour she had organised for us through the Peloponnese. As an exponent of women’s empowerment, I was delighted to discover that as early as 7th century BC the Oracle of Delphi was consulted for her wise words and direction. This Pythian priestess, who was elected to be the Oracle during her middle years, was the most authoritative among the Greeks and she was without doubt the most powerful woman of the ancient world. Even the famous historic philosopher Socrates believed in her power. I love the fact that thousands of years ago, older women were revered and respected for their experience and wisdom.
Many of the women who seek my help are in the second half of their life. They tell me that they feel invisible, forgotten or no longer needed. The changes that come with menopause affect every woman at some stage in her life, and the population of postmenopausal women is rising due to our aging population. Despite this, it is still viewed as a negative taboo topic, even though when standing in a queue at the shops, we can clearly see who’s suffering through hot flushes.
Numerous female role models have dedicated their careers to the empowerment of women, especially those in their later years who have lost their sense of direction and purpose. The most active and influential role model that comes to mind is Michelle Obama. During her time as first lady, she used her fame and position to direct media attention to many social issues, a prominent one being the empowerment of women, by women. Obama is a mother in midlife herself, who dialled back her career in law when her husband became President. She is an inspiring role model for those of us who are unsure what to do next, as she supported her husband and his career whilst following a separate path to campaign for social justice. Though no longer first lady, Obama continues her admirable work and remains a significant role model for women everywhere.
Another influential, public woman of wisdom who is devoted to publicising female empowerment, is Meryl Streep. Now in her late 60s, Streep is a mother of four grown up children, who all have their own careers and lives. Following midlife she has maintained an incredible reputation as a talented actress, and recently starred in a film called The Post. This movie came out last year, in the year of women, and focuses on the political and workplace inequalities that women faced in the late 20th century. During interviews and public speeches, Streep uses her fame as a platform to encourage women to search for opportunities, to not be put down by others and to adopt selfish-interest to help them fulfill their potential and feel empowered again.
As we celebrate Mothers day, think of the women in your life: Mothers, aunts, grannies or friends – think of the wisdom have they passed on to you and your family?
Let’s treat all women, especially the elderly, with the respect and care they deserve.
Share below any of their insights that have stayed with you.
Happy Mother’s Day.