What Do Women Do?

Sri Lanka women covered with plastic picking tea leaves on plantation during rain

What do you do all day?

For much of our lives, women’s work revolves around the schedule of others whether they are our children, our children’s children, our husbands, our employers or our God.

Those of us living in Earth’s jungles, deserts and mountains in back-breaking poverty, whose day is clocked by the sun’s movement across the sky, dream of escaping to the cities where the water is directed.  Those of us in cities, dream of escaping the noise, the 24-hours of artificial light and the hum of civilization to more the natural worlds of the jungles, deserts and mountains where the water flows freely.

Mostly, we do the hard work that brings the least glory –  the daily rituals of cooking for others; cleaning the toilets or digging latrines, washing the dishes and the clothes with and without water; singing lullabies and caring for babies, young children, sick children, disabled children, elderly parents; planting seeds, gathering fruits, filling jars or buying groceries; running errands, maintaining social contacts and ensuring our children meet their homework deadlines or find a safe trail to school.

Multi armed Goddess in GangaRamaya Temple in Sri Lanka

But when all the day is done, and all the others are sleeping, women write songs and poetry, paint landscapes and watercolors of their children, cook for their friends and the less fortunate, knit sweaters, sew blankets, dream of peace, of dancing, pray for an end to their children’s suffering, their suffering and all suffering.

When women gather, they sing, dance, cook together and laugh.  They pray, share insights, gather ideas and evidence.  They shout for peace on behalf of those who cannot.  They speak truth to power, to those who hold guns, to those who hold the keys to their livelihood in their hands and to those who hold their souls.

And after their children are grown and gone, women continue walking miles in the shoes of others.  They lay their bodies across roads, stand in solidarity, defend their families, help their loved ones transition from this life, fed the less fortunate, raise money to find cures, gather others to vote, cook, sing, dance, cry, celebrate and pray.

This is women’s work.

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