While many of my fellow women and I may coo at an adorable baby on a bus or have babysat in the past, but it does not mean that we all want to have kids, nor that we need to.
I recently had a male friend tell me, in response to my saying that I didn't want to have children, that because I am a woman I will ultimately end up wanting and having children. As someone majoring in both Human Development and Family Studies, as well as Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies, I am quite used to discussing the roles of women as well as parenthood and family dynamics. It is common in our society for women to be looked down upon and to often be considered "not real women" if they end up having a career and a life that does not involve having children, and thus I am not so surprised to have heard a comment like this. It is, however, important to continue to be progressive in our conceptions on the role of women in society.
If someone does not want to have children, that is their choice. Whether it be that children are too expensive, the woman prioritizes her career, or she doesn't particularly like the idea of having children overall, that woman is still just as valuable in society, and has just as much purpose in life as any woman who becomes a mother. She can help her community, create fulfilling relationships, have a successful career and much more. Motherhood does not make you a real woman, we are already real women.
Let's also not forget that many women, even if they want to, are physically unable to bear children. These women are not worth any less because of this. That there are transgender women as well. They are real women. Women who can create and travel and show love to others. They are innovative and strong and vibrant. Our womanhood manifests in a myriad of beautiful ways, and motherhood is just one.