Coming from a family of strong women, I grew up taking independence for granted. My grandmother always emphasized the power we had as women to take care of ourselves, pursue our dreams, and thrive. All three of her daughters went on to earn university degrees in subjects they were passionate about and then to work and become financially independent. One of them even chose not to get married, an act of defiance in 1950s Italy.
Needless to say, I grew up surrounded by strong women role models. It wasn’t until my business partner, Joyanne, and I started Makerie Studio that I saw firsthand the perceived difference between genders in society. We realized how differently we were treated as young women, as people often assumed we worked for someone else, or commented on our appearance rather than our skills. More than once we were told that we “didn’t look like we’d know what we were doing,” despite having done our research, being professionally dressed, and clearly well prepared for our jobs.
We were lucky enough to grow up in environments that fostered growth indiscriminately, with people who believe gender is not relevant to a person’s potential, and we have reaped the benefits of our mothers’ and grandmothers’ fights for independence.
But there is more that needs to change.
This is nothing compared to the difficulties women have to go through in most parts of the world. Women are still fighting every day for the most basic of freedoms: the freedom to choose what to do with their minds and their bodies, the freedom to vote, the freedom to earn a living. The freedom to experience their menstrual cycles without being ostracized by families and communities. The freedom to pursue their dreams.
International Women’s Day holds significance for everyone, regardless of gender. Today, we remember the freedoms we have enjoyed, but continue to stand up for women’s equality around the world.
When designing this year’s Google Doodle for International Women’s Day, we chose to represent this concept as a mandala—a format reminiscent of the planet we all live on, and of the life cycles we all go through. We started at the center by depicting some of the women who instigated the women’s rights movement, which chronologically and exponentially grew to include more and more women, each generation standing on the shoulders of the incredible women before them. We included women from many different backgrounds, visually connecting them at the start and then gradually releasing them from each other, showing how our togetherness and strength as a group has, in turn, allowed us to be independent.
We believe that the outer layer of this mandala is not the end of the story—we still have so many more women to include and many more layers to add.
We have a long way to go, but my grandmother would have been so proud of how far we’ve come. Joyanne and I hope that when people around the world see today’s Doodle, they are, too.