Dum spiro spero (while I breathe, I hope)

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Once I looked up at the word “woman” in many different languages and noticed that out of the long list an exception caught my attention: the word woman in Vietnamese is written separately as wo man (đàn bà). First, I found this ‘grammatical separation’ just interesting but I soon realized the paradox this hides.

As a father, partner and son I grew up surrounded by women. Women who were able to go to school, to work, to dream, to vote, to fall in love, to live in freedom. Delicate, fragile, passionate, yet strong and determined. Though there are deep scars of oppression in our society in which a woman is not able to be herself or to express the core of her essence; like the beauty, light and love living inside her soul. Imagine a butterfly entrapped within a tiny cage not allowing her to spread her wings to fly away. I wonder……how would I feel?…How do they feel?...

Despite the gains in women’s rights of the last decades, women’s oppression remains a multi-layered and established issue in the 21st century. It is often easy for people to ignore the social and cultural manifestations of women’s oppression. It is a complex reality that includes overall sexualization of women in popular culture, the association of women with products that can be traded, the acceptance of abusive behaviour towards women, the classification of women as both intellectually and physically inferior to men.

She is visible, yet unreachable.

A woman put under pressure by society, wrapped into a visible and still invisible veil. Imprisoned and confined within a multi-dimensional and inconvenient truth that silently spreads inside her soul. A woman who wants to break out of her silk confinement but no one is there. A woman with no rights to use her voice that cannot be heard to reach out for help. A woman that does not feel safe and disappears behind the veils like dust. Yet a woman with a strong willpower to break out, spread hope, share strength and breathe through.

I could not be more grateful to all the beautiful women that have crossed my path. To them I owe my presence in this world and the person I am today.

Thank you.

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