It's the International Women's Day (#IWD2018). It's an important occasion, recognised by the United Nations and gives all those who enshrine this occasion or celebrate it some reasons to think of certain dynamics.

There are many brilliant women across the world who are working hard to overcome certain difficulties to make their societies better and have their voice heard: fighting myopia being emitted by those who think confining a dynamic, entrepreneurial and creative population in their ability to make positive, useful contribution to their society makes them unable to make more positive contributions to the kitchen, in household; fighting intolerance by the inflexible, uneducated and undemocratic leaders who need women when it comes to suffrage and the importance of this apparently "indispensable" population to cast votes and make the election campaign dynamic and competitive so that a certain message is sent to those who are watching from "overseas", that Iranians are always at the polls en masse; fighting patriarchy, forceful recommendations and illogical demands by those think women are "created" to serve certain purposes: fighting the duplicity of those who boast of moral values and ethical considerations, while corrupting their citizenry and disparaging their own moral credibility by making women the instrument of propaganda.

And with this much emphasis on the importance of motherhood and the sanctity of women, how much do the Muslim nations, including Iran, respect the privacy, freedoms and the "happiness" of their schoolgirls, female university students, women working in kindergartens, female gardeners and farmers, women employed by the government, female artists, scientists and researchers, mothers who only take care of their children at home, widows who've lost their husbands and rely on mediocre goverment pension and those mothers who've lost their dear ones in the eight-year-war with Iraq and sometimes feel they're burdens on the shoulder of the government, because help doesn't come automatically unless they implore to the relevant authorities dealing with the veteran affairs to help them sustain their lives, and they don't want to compromise their dignity?

As said by the Brazilian author Paulo Coelho, "this world is full of idiots distributed strategically so you can meet at least one per day."

I've met, worked with and studied about inspirational women who have mostly impacted my life in unusually positive ways. Not because I endorse their lifestyle or way of thinking %100; mostly because in my view, you can even learn something useful and positive from your "enemy", let alone somebody with whom you only have a small difference of opinion... let's bear in mind this important point: those who create enemies have already failed in counting the number of their friends, which is itself a bit tricky when it comes to effective leadership strategies, even though enumerating those imaginary enemies sometimes creates unity when it's rarely available due to internal divisions. And after a while, convinces the speaker and their audience that there are really enemies who want to do something serious and hazardous.

It's time for theocracies and democracies alike to stop using women as blind eulogizers who gather to shout in affirmation of repetitive, dreary statements on what is the right thing for them to do, while the speakers even don't adhere to those standards themselves --- women are also human beings and can make their own decisions. A wise observer or leader warns against a threat once; those who listen, because they agree with the accuracy, validity and purity of the warning take the advice, take that path and prosper and those who don't don't. As Iranian President Hassan Rouhani once suggested, the government shouldn't really feel obliged to push all of its citizens into the heaven and devise plans for their afterlife from the moment they enter primary school! That's very simple.

Politicians and decision-makers shouldn't really get involved in the most personal choices of half of the society, who, at least to some extent, understands what is right and wrong for them to do. Hypocrisy and compulsion, in whatever form, makes our populace suspicious towards us and non-compliant with our general guidelines and policy instructions, i.e. the standards: standards that should apply to everybody.

I clearly remember the late Richard Nelson Frye, a prominent American scholar of Iranian and Central Asian Studies at Harvard University had expressed in his will that he wanted to be buried next to the Zayandeh River in Isfahan after his death because of his deep passion for the Iranian culture and especially the iconic city of Isfahan. "Some considerations" (read opposition by the hardliners and the "experts") ruined this after-death ambition and his family made a different decision and cremated his body two months after the authorities at that time couldn't solve this very simple issue. This is utterly unaccaptable, even by Islamic standards.

When Maryam Mirzakhani, the noted Iranian mathematician and a professor of mathematics at Stanford University, who won the prestigious Fields Medal in 2014 died of cancer in 2017, the first thing that many "critics" raised, instead of expression of sympathy and paying tribute, was questioning her choice of dressing. Why wasn't she putting on headscarves as an Iranian woman studying and researching abroad?

2018 can certainly be a better year for half of the society. The solution is just around the corner. Give this population the right to speak up, to criticize, to shout if they're angry, instead of harming themslves, turning to narcotics, fleeing their country with no educational, professional or serious life plan. Treat this population with mercy. It's true that authorities, whether in the government, in the military, religious figures and hundreds of other small and big organiations have different roles and responsibilities. But even the religious authorities should practice some "secularism", not by deconstructing the basis of "morality" and "ethics" as accepted by the society; by purifying their intentions and treat people around them as citizens who've got their own way of thinking, life, choices and preferences, and do not owe the people in power anything. 

Having said all of these, I prefer my wife to cook for me, first beause it's something that she does way better, and also because it's something that I cannot afford time-wise and ability-wise! And when she does it, I'll do my best to make her understand that she is a very dexterous cheff, because she really is. But it doesn't mean that I try to make my wife an impeccable copy of myself, way of thinking and way of practice. This is what I learnt about secularism.

IWD2018: How to try to make 2018 a better year for half of the society?