If you were born a woman at this time in history, then you are here to save the world."
This statement by the Tibetan Thanka painter, Romio Shresthna, is not quite as famous as the comment by The Dalai Lama himself;
The world will be saved by the western woman"
but equally as poignant.
Why do these spiritual leaders reckon the future of humankind depends on women? Maybe because they're seeing western women make things happen in a new way. The western woman has power, education and compassion. She creates, connects and integrates. More evolved members of the gentler sex also understand that sisterhood functions better than competition. The western woman has choices and possibilities. Choices more impoverished and oppressed women living on the planet today don't have. A lot of the choices have to do with family and social expectations. The western woman can chose to have less children or just one child. She can even make the choice to have no children at all. And she won't be marginalised or banished to the forest, as was once the case.
Pregnancy and childbirth, as beautiful and abundant as they are, take their toll on a woman's body. From 'losing' your figure, ugly stretch marks, varicose veins and other cosmetic annoyances to serious health issues and death, risks are involved when you have children. There is guaranteed suffering: From horrifying fevers to teenager tantrums. Not to mention all the other things that could go wrong like debilitating accidents, drug abuse and eating disorders. And the costs? Well it averages out at £222,458 per child say the latest figures. Not having children frees you up from many a burden.
Childfree ladies can transform their lives radically overnight and act on impulse - be it taking off on a hiking trip to Patagonia or launching a new career. If they're tired, they can - in theory - sleep more. A concept that is foreign to anyone with young children. Children are hard work; no one has ever denied that. Most modern day mothers are knackered from working around the clock - first the day job, then the full-time, incessant work in the house; the relentless tidying up, laundry, 'what's-for-dinner-tonight-mum?'
And that's just middle and working class mums in the West.
Survival is the main concern for an uneducated mother of seven battling drought in Africa. Saving the planet is just not on her radar; similarly for an unemployed single mum living off welfare on a Scottish council estate. As with many things in life it's about money, time and resources- and if these are at a woman's disposal she can literally move mountains.
She has freedom.
When I say freedom, you do realise I mean reckless, complete 'lightness of being' freedom because you are accountable and responsible for only yourself. Freedom is our essence as spiritual beings but life happens and somehow takes it away from us.
The woman without children has the freedom and independence to travel anywhere on a bucket-sale, red-eye ticket. She can go out for impromptu dinners without having to organize the equivalent of a G8 summit. She has the freedom to pursue projects with abandon and follow her reckless heart. The average mother often puts her dreams on hold for another year or decade because she's racing to catch up with other 'stuff'. In the end all she manages to do is check the Facebook posts she's missed and load yet another washing machine.
Motherhood shouldn't define being a woman and we shouldn't let the 'mother-tick-yes-or-no-box' divide us. You definitely shouldn't feel 'less of a woman' or incomplete for failing to join the ranks in 'nappy-town'. In our collective consciousness all women are mothers. Simply by being born a woman we have mothering qualities. We have maternal knowledge in our bones, it is etched into our DNA as women and - if you believe in reincarnation - we have been mothers many lifetimes already. So whether is it voluntary or not, if you're a childfree, western woman today maybe you were meant to be exactly that: A childfree, western woman. Not only do you play a valuable role in society but you have an important mission.
Even if you're not actively reforesting the Amazon or rescuing sex slaves in South East Asia you can be on the fast track to living your life's purpose. Or as freedom coach Nisha Moodley says,
The world will be set free by women who are free."
This article first appeared in The Huffington Post