International Women’s Day 2013

today I am grateful to :
my wife Shelley
my mother Peg
my five sisters, and my two sisters-in-law, all of them formidable women
my women cousins – being the baby of all the families gives me the best role models
my nine nieces, little girls to strong, grown women
my eleven great-nieces, with Amy Catton to lead them, they’re off to a head start
a selection of passionate women teachers : Miss Mackay, Mary Crum, Sr Barbara, Sr Melita, Sr Connie
some of the amazing women from my theatre work : Kate Crutchley, Tessa Schneideman, the women of Vital Statistics, Alison Goldie, Angela Clerkin, the women of Improbable, Emma Deakin and the women of Shaky Isles, the women of Chaosbaby
some of the brilliant women from my writing work : Liz Calder, Carole Welch, Ruthie Petrie, Lisa Gee, Antonia Hodgson, Lennie Goodings, Stephanie Cabot, Lucinda Prain, Rachel Taylor, Esther Douglas, the women of The Board, Saz Martin, Theodora
foremothers in feminism : Mary Wollstonecraft, the Pankhursts, Emily Davison, Kate Shepherd, Maud Pember Reeves (and New Zealand in general for giving women the vote first)
women in feminism and writing : Maya Angelou, Alice Walker, Marge Piercy, Margaret Atwood, Jeanette Winterson, Val McDermid, Linda Grant, Susie Orbach, Natasha Walter, Eve Ensler
women of courage around sexuality : Martina Navratilova and Billy Jean King who were so vital when I was growing up; the Topp Twins, who were so important when I was coming out; the women of Stonewall who are making the invisible women visible
my incredible women friends, those I have known since I was 11, and those I have met and loved more recently
the women who have also had cancer, and who inspired me and allowed me to support them – those alive and those not (and Annie Middleton, whose Modern Amazons came at exactly the right time)
the many women I know who live with chronic illness and who keep on, the best they can, because they do
the women of my Buddhist practice (and the man, Nichiren, who said – in the 13th century – that women are as capable as men of attaining enlightenment)
the women working to stop FGM
the women working to allow all women education, everywhere
the women working to stop war
the women working to allow all women to vote, everywhere
the women working to stop all discrimination, everywhere
the women working to make queer women as safe as every other woman should be
the women working against rape
the women who say rape jokes have no place, anywhere
the women who say enough, I have had enough
the women of privilege who know their own comfort is not good enough
the women who make a difference
the women who take a stand
the women who say no more
the women who say onwards
the women who inspire

and the men who then and now support and love and work alongside those women in creating the equal world that is better for ALL of us

and my dad, who would have been 92 today, who has now been dead half my life, but in the half that he was alive encouraged me to work, to earn my own money, to stand on my own two feet, to be strong, to follow my goals and to work for myself and for others. I’m doing it, Tom.