The second Sunday of May, Mother’s day, is a celebration of motherhood and maternal bonds in many countries. I dedicate this piece to all the women who are mothers, were mothers, are expectant mothers, and also the ones who prefer not to become a mother.
The modern Mother’s Day started in 1907 in the United States and was initiated by Anna Jarvis who wanted to commemorated her own mother. In 1912, she registered the phrases “Second Sunday in May” and “Mother’s Day” as trademarks, and created the Mother’s Day International Association. She specifically stated that “Mother’s” should “be a singular possessive, for each family to honor its own mother, not a plural possessive commemorating all mothers in the world.” (Source: Wikipedia).
Since the early 1920s, greeting card companies and florists, among others, have exploited Mother’s Day as a commercial holiday for profit which has diluted the main reason behind this day.
Innovation and technology
You may wonder what this day has to do with innovation and technology? Please bear with me.
Increasingly, Mother’s day is all about “Pink”, which besides stereotyping it, sends a message, which means that we haven’t put any thought into it at all. I believe that this day should be about the celebration of the impact that mothers and motherhood have on society. Being a woman and motherhood itself are so closely intertwined that we almost and unconsciously see them as one. Every woman is raised and expected to be a mother one day and this raises the following questions:
- How do girls and women learn to define their roles and position in society?
- How does motherhood impact a woman’s life and personal priorities?
- And finally, how does this impact the society (public and private sectors) as a whole?
Assuming that girls and boys, men and women all grow and live in comparable environments, question A and B become a matter of personal choice. Here, I would like to focus on the 3rd question, C. Putting it differently, how the female choices will impact society and its future and why should society take a closer look at that?
If the economy had a gender, it would be female, and we better listen to it
Not only do women constitute more than 50% of the world population, more than ever before, women are getting higher education and participating in the labor market and generating and owning wealth. Aside from that:
- women have primary or shared responsibility for financial decisions. We drive 70% – 80% of consumer purchasing through either directly buying or influencing the decision. In addition to that, we have a multiplier effect.
- as a mother, spouse and caregiver, we also make (purchasing) decisions on behalf of people who all live together or for our extended families. We most likely had to help with Mother’s day gifts too. 😊
- women around the world are more similar than they are different. We are united by our biological build and our biological role in giving birth to the human race. We are also united by our roles as caregivers, relationship builders, and communicators. Despite the high potential market size, Female Technology (Femtech) products and innovations are still unexplored. Lack of female representation in STEM fields along with very limited investment in this market are major contributors to that.
- women are more likely than men involved in childcare and educational duties. We are the first to stay home to take care of our children, to be called by school, play a pivotal role in the selection of the education system, organize the majority of out-of-school activities. Our choices and priorities drive the education system but also the growth of the next generation. As mothers, the more we are involved in the labor market, the better the advice and guidance we can give our children.
Our decisions and choices, influence the movement of markets and how new products and technologies enter into our lives. To ensure a true representation of our needs and decision criteria, we need to be included in various steps of the process where decisions are made.
Female representation beyond markets and economies
Motherhood is never an overnight change. From the moment a woman starts exploring that option, she puts herself in continuous sprints of exploration, development, adaption and feedback. It’s like starting a sole proprietorship dual partnership, starting with a high level of passion and dedication, with many technical challenges to overcome and a bumpy road ahead where partners are concerned. There is a chance of miscarriage or other unexpected tragedies, there will be grief and sometimes we have to just give up the idea of motherhood altogether. We have to collaborate with a growing human being that has a mind of their own, strategize, be resilient and make tough decisions. In short, we really do feel every stage with our body and mind!
The process of motherhood puts us, women, on a life-long journey of growth. These are skills that any public or private organization can benefit from. I hope we can elevate Mother’s Day from roses and greeting cards, to a day when we cherish and celebrate in equal measure our ideas and involvement and our influence on our family and society in general.
About this column:
In a weekly column, alternately written by Eveline van Zeeland, Eugene Franken, Helen Kardan, Katleen Gabriels, Bert Overlack, Carina Weijma, Bernd Maier-Leppla and Colinda de Beer, Innovation Origins tries to find out what the future will look like. These columnists, occasionally supplemented by guest bloggers, are all working on solutions in their own way on the problems of our time. So that tomorrow will be good Here are all the previous articles.