Finding Your Ikigai- A Guide For Women Who Champion Gender Equity

Ikigai – the profound Japanese philosophy of one's "reason for being." As an author and Executive Contributor who champions female leadership and gender equality, Eva Rosa Santos understand that there are millions of women around the world, who just like her, dream big. In this article she explores the profound significance of our individual and collective Ikigai for women who champion gender equality.

In the depths of my heart, there exists a profound and unwavering source of inspiration, a guiding light that shapes my every step and ignites the fire of purpose within me. It is a force that propels me forward, urging me to become the best mother, the strongest woman, and the finest version of myself. This force, this reason for being, can be succinctly encapsulated in two precious names: Beatriz and Pedro – my children.

Have you ever contemplated the legacy you wish to bequeath to the world, the indelible mark you aspire to etch into the tapestry of existence? I have. And for me, it all converges into a singular, potent concept: Ikigai – the profound Japanese philosophy of one’s “reason for being.” As an author and an Executive Contributor who champions female leadership and gender equality, I understand that there are millions of women around the world, who just like me, dream big.

This thought has led me to reflect on my reason of being, not as an abstract idea, but as a channel of self-expression for women who champion gender equality. If you are on your own path of self-discovery and empowerment, you already know that motherhood and gender equality advocacy are the two sides of the same coin. .

I have come to understand that our individual Ikigai is inextricably linked to the pursuit of gender equity, a powerful narrative of purpose. This is not a solitary quest; it is a collective endeavor where each woman’s story contributes to building a more just and equal world. Finding your purpose as a woman and mother, while simultaneously championing the cause of gender equality could be a challenge when you feel overwhelmed and alienated.

Keep reading as I uncover the unique Ikigai that women who champion gender equality are facing. This is an invitation to start celebrating the joys, challenges and aspirations that bind us as women who strive to empower ourselves and others. Through our stories and shared experiences, we will discover the threads that connect us in a vibrant tapestry of strength, determination and boundless potential. My story, which I believe is your story, is not really about me but about the women who champion gender equality, as we unravel the profound significance of our individual and collective Ikigai.

woman holding toddler on front seashore

As a mother, my aspiration goes beyond the boundaries of nurturing, protection and guidance. It extends into the realm of shaping human beings who are not just intelligent but wise, not just good but compassionate, and above all, individuals who are able to listen to the symphony of their own hearts, in the pursuit of unadulterated happiness.

How, you might wonder, does one convey such a profound message to their children? The answer is both simple and complex, rooted in our daily life. Beatriz and Pedro, who  at present are 12 and 9, regard me with a blend of love, respect and sometimes exasperation. I am not just their beloved mother; I am teaching them do’s and don’ts, like a guardian of their bedtime, meals, study sessions and, occasionally, an ‘annoying’ presence in their lives.

But they also see me as the mother who works tirelessly to provide them with a stable and secure life. They witness my dedication, my unwavering commitment to my work and they often hear the whispers of “She works a lot.” Alas, those words weigh on me, but they serve a purpose. I make no secret that my work makes me happy and that is teaching  my children the connection between work and happiness. I want them to grasp that life’s purpose resides in the alignment of passion and profession. Each day, I am filled with gratitude for the opportunity to engage in work that I am deeply passionate about, a vocation that not only brings me pleasure but ignites the sparks of joy within my soul.

For in the inspiration I bring in the stories I share and in the moments we spend together, I aim to imprint upon them the value of pursuing their own reason for being. As a parent I have to help them understand what they love, what they are good at, what the world needs and what can sustain them financially. I yearn for them to realise that life’s satisfaction emanates from living authentically, pursuing your dreams with confidence and finding the profound happiness that springs forth from following your heart.

My Ikigai, my reason for being, is intimately tied to being the mother they deserve and the person they trust. And as I witness them grow, with each step they take toward becoming the remarkable individuals they are destined to be, I am reminded of the importance of living a life driven by passion and purpose. 

As a woman I am on a relentless pursuit of my own, unique path to happiness. I hope they see that! In the end, it is not just the legacy we leave behind, but the desire for excellence we inspire in others that defines our true reason for being.

While my family is undeniably a significant part of my life, on the professional front, my Ikigai is unequivocally rooted in contributing my vision and voice to amplify the chorus of both women and men in our collective journey towards gender equity and equality. I am building a foundation designed to implement gender equity, to empowering girls, women and raise awareness. Inspiring change not only within women but also within men, it feels very much like being a bricklayer, building confidence and hope with every story we share.

In a world where the ideals of gender equity remain an aspiration rather than a reality, discovering your Ikigai becomes intrinsically linked with empowering women and ensuring equal opportunities for all. Empowering women means granting them the freedom to pursue their passions, break free from the constricting norms that society imposes, and actively participate in shaping a better world. In this endeavour, women find not only their own IKIGAI but also their true purpose, resulting in personal fulfilment and profound contributions to society as a whole.

It is an extraordinary privilege to harmonise my beliefs with my daily pursuit of happiness. How many of us are fortunate enough to have this opportunity? To have a voice in a world still dominated by men carries immense weight and responsibility. It means that we aspire to be heard for our competence, our knowledge, for who we are as individuals, not merely because we are women. It signifies actively participating in the empowerment of girls and women, elevating our peers into leadership roles, nurturing the bonds of sisterhood, and becoming a wellspring of inspiration for others.

Every contribution, no matter how small, holds intrinsic value and relevance in this ongoing journey. A multitude of tiny seeds, sown and nurtured, will grow into an orchard of fruit bearing trees. We all hold importance in effecting the necessary change that will lead to a world characterised by fairness and equity, where every individual benefits. Leaving this legacy to my children fills my heart with a profound sense of purpose and joy.

Takeaway Thoughts

As a woman and a mother, discovering my IKIGAI has taken on a profound significance, intertwining the roles and responsibilities I embrace in my personal and professional life. It is a quest that goes beyond the boundaries of societal expectations and norms, a journey where I continually seek to align my passions, aspirations, and contributions to the betterment of women’s lives and by extension, inspiring the next generations of girls and boys.

In your role as a mother, you have found my Ikigai in nurturing the future leaders and change-makers of the world. It is a daily commitment to instill in your children the values of respect, empathy and the belief that they can achieve anything they set their minds to, regardless of their gender. You are not just raising children; you are shaping the architects of a more equitable world, imparting to them the importance of understanding, compassion, and the power of their own voices.

In my professional life, I recognize that my Ikigai stands in leveraging my voice as a conscious influencer who advocates for gender equity, to be a beacon of change in a world where gender disparities still persist. My daily work is more than just a job; it is a calling to challenge the status quo, to empower women and men alike and to ensure that the next generation inherits a world where opportunities are truly equal, unburdened by the constraints of gender.

The intertwining of these roles, as a mother and as a voice for gender equity, has brought me to a point of profound personal fulfillment. It is a journey where my aspirations as a mother and my professional pursuits align, as I create a better future for my children and for all those who are the victims of gender inequality. My Ikigai is not only about finding my own purpose but also about playing a part in bringing hope for others, ensuring that women and mothers around the world discover their own reasons for being and that together, we make the world a more inclusive, just and equitable place.

Do you want to share your story and inspire our readers ? Know that every story is paving the way for a brighter, happier future.

Eva Rosa Santos
Eva Rosa Santos

Leadership Facilitator with over 25 years in Human Resources, founder of Female Leadership in Angola, and author of “My Book That Is Your Book – We All Have A Voice!” Passionate about elevating women in leadership and championing gender equity.

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