If the world were a corporation, it would be discarded by now as bankrupt by reason of structural obsolescence through failure to respond to change. Fortunately, human endeavour constitutes a mere fraction of the influences on a planet which largely creates its own resources and manages itself through forces of Nature beyond the control of humans.
To have survived as a dynamic corporation, the world would have had to ditch its model for development, scrap its strategic plan, tear up its organisational chart and abandon its modes of operation. Then, as it faced the challenge of creating a new blueprint for development, it would have to figure out how to design a whole new world, also taking into full account today's woman: multi-faceted, multi-dimensional and equipped with the right to be all that she can be.
Then, together, this new world of fully-realised men and women would devise relevant, workable strategies for ensuring a seamless transition from one generation to the next. It would be the responsibility of all, not just the individual mother or the parents, to ensure that every child was loved, protected and guided to the point of development from where they, too, could spread their wings and fly into an orbit of their own dreams.
The point of all this Mother's Day mulling is to draw attention to the bind in which so many women are caught by having to function within the confines of an old order which holds her primarily accountable for the quality of human civilisation.
As personal as the relationship between mother and child is, the larger responsibility for each succeeding generation belongs to the wider society. It is up to all of us, not just mothers and parents, to understand the nature and impact of the tectonic shift that has resulted from the mass discovery of the potential of women beyond the home and family.
Whether in front, at the side or behind men, the release of woman energy into the wider service of the world has quite probably been the single most critical element in achieving the quantum leap in global development over the last century.
And yet, the old order goes on as if nothing much has changed. As if it were enough just to make a little space for women, squeezing in one here, another one there. As if the dramatic changes of the last century don't require a whole new configuration, only a little tinkering here and there. As if the old order doesn't need women to be all that they can be, and in so needing them, to transform itself so that women could engage it without nagging guilt, unending exhaustion and the impossible choices that keep them darting between responsibilities to everything but their very own Self, the source of one's personal energy for life.
No mother should have to choose between her child and her Self; she should be able to choose both her child and her Self.
Every mother carries her share of responsibility for the succeeding generation, both through her child and through her own actions as a human being.
Every women should have the chance to discover the Self she was born to be and to give it the fullest possible expression through the life she chooses to live.
What do women want? Women want to be whatever they choose to be, on terms that respect their right to find happiness and self-fulfillment. Even more fundamental, women want the freedom to find out what they want, without being told what they should want. They don't want to be put in a box, and even if they did, they would like to design the box.
Confronted by an old order that insists on being engaged on its terms, many women are paying the psychic price of having to make hard choices between all the loves of their lives. What to give up for whom? And who to give up for what? When the pain of choice becomes too much to bear, they turn inward and solve the problem by giving up on themselves.
The irony is that the elements of a new order are within our grasp, there for the taking, lying idle, waiting for us to bring them into play.
As we consider the options for a new social configuration, we need to take into account the lifestyle of women and the possibilities presented by technologies with the potential to liberate people from the industrial plantation complex. A coherent national policy on decentralisation and a gender-sensitive policy on information and communication technology (ICT) could dissolve the walls of time and space and release women to the integrated, holistic life that they have always lived naturally as the centre of the universe of home.
Perhaps worse than the glass ceiling is the cubicle, symbol of the modern world of work that forces women to compartmentalise their lives, cutting them off from the integrated existence on which their legendary skill of multi-tasking was built.
Created in the image of ancient male power, the vertical, hierarchical structure of the working environment is built on the assumption that someone else is at home, minding the baby, cooking the food and waiting to comfort. As women followed men into this unyielding world, these roles have fallen to hired helpers, widening the gap between women as mothers and opening up the socially explosive question: Who's minding the babysitter's baby?
As partners in production and participants in the economy, women want a workplace revolution that would liberate their bodies and incentivise their minds to contribute and participate as they so choose.
As social beings with the capacity to inspire, cherish, empathise and excite, women want the freedom to love and to nurture as they so choose.
As mothers with the sacred responsibility to the children in their care, women want the infrastructural support to give the best of themselves as they so choose.
As unique individuals on the solitary journey of their own lives, women want the space to discover themselves, find their purpose, and harness their energies for living their dreams, as they so choose.
What do women want? We want it all. And then some more.
Happy Mother's Day, Sisters all.
• Sunity Maharaj is the editor of the T&T Review and Director of the Lloyd Best Institute of the West Indies