The five things you should take care of for yourself as a woman

Get a smear test

Or more broadly, prioritise your health. As women we will often find our physical complaints marginalised, pain and discomfort ignored and things like health checks delayed, often by ourselves, because something else needs attending to. Today is a great day to remind you that you only get to have one health and it’s more important than anyone else’s, including your family. If this sounds selfish, remember that you can’t take care of your loved ones or yourself very well if you’re sick. It’s just like with the oxygen masks on the airplane – your one goes on first, before you help your row neighbour.

Get your ‘run’ money together

I’d like to say that you won’t need it, ever. But there are just too many possible ’emergency’ situations where you need to bail yourself out without anyone else’s help. This doesn’t just mean the most common scenario of an abusive relationship. This means a broken leg abroad when you have no travel insurance, rescuing yourself from a burnout of a job, leaving a city which you have no love for or buying your way out of police custody so fast that nobody finds out that you got arrested at a protest. Your run money is the money which keeps you free and fearless – have it and don’t tell anyone that you do.

Learn about your rights as a person, employee and an inhabitant of your country

We stand on the shoulders of women who came before us, who fought for our rights as human beings and who made it possible for us to strive for equality in face of law between all sexes and races. And while the attempts at diminishing our human, reproductive, education and employment rights are under constant attack…learn about what your rights are and what they mean. Whether this is finding out what legal protection is in place for you as an employee, what you can, should or cannot do as a resident of your country and what your rights are in any other life situation. Find out about every tax exemption, benefit and tax credit you are entitled to. Find out what legal protection you have from your bank in case of identity theft. Find out what you are really insured against through your home insurance. Make it a point to read the small print and understand it – not only it’ll make you less likely to be a victim of rights abuse, but it will also help you benefit from what’s available to you.

Figure out your boundaries and make them known

When I was in my 20s, I suffered so much harassment based on my gender and nationality that I could write a whole book, just listing some of the things people said to me. And here’s the thing. No means no and yes means yes, and the faster you make it known what’s allowed around you and what’s not, the faster people will get it. If it’s not in your job description and you have other priorities, politely say no. If you don’t want another drink, politely say no. If your healthcare professional is marginalising you, ask for a different doctor. If a partner pressures you into behaviours you do not want to participate in, state your boundaries, and respect their boundaries too.

Put yourself first, financially and otherwise

Last but not least, your wellbeing is your priority. It is a sad truth that in most cases unless you put your wellbeing first, nobody will do it for you. This doesn’t just include your physical health, it also includes your financial one. I’ve heard so many times about female members of my family being left penniless for a while because they chose to sponsor something for their fully-grown child, cosign a loan for a grandkid or gift all their money away. And while I have nothing against generosity, I have everything against generosity to the point of the giver sacrificing their own comfort for it. Some might argue that it’s unchristian (I’m from a VERY Christian country), but that’s incorrect – Bible tells you to be generous and frankly you can be more generous when you have something to be generous with. So remember this – it’s your pension before your kids’ college, it’s your healthcare before your friend’s baby shower gift, and it’s your wellbeing before everybody else’s. Yes, most of us have been taught otherwise, but we were taught wrong so time to re-learn where the centres of our own worlds are.

It’s only fair to say that the list above really applies to people regardless of their sex or gender. It really applies to every human being in the world as I know it and I really hope that you are able to accomplish all five of these goals. And if you have anything else to add to this list, let it be known in the comments!

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