An institution or celebration that is 107 years old is considered wise and well-advanced in maturity. Today 8th March 2018, is that auspicious occasion for the International Women’s Day (IWD). Granted, it was adopted by the United Nations in 1975 and the General Assembly 2 years after; this is an observance in its middle age. It will therefore be fair to say that by now women’s rights should have gone much further than it has by now.
The injustices women face daily are still being fought in corridors of power, board rooms and communities worldwide. That cannot take away from the advancements made by and for women in the last century. There are many civic, political, employment and other rights that women possess today that our forbears could hardly dream about.
Whether you are for, against or indifferent to IWD, that is a matter of personal preference. I for one think that sometimes it is possible to get carried away with grand gestures without sustained action to make the goals a reality. I salute everyone, male and female all over the globe who are pushing back against the oppression of women in very difficult circumstances. These heroes who mostly work behind the seasons and often not rewarded for their work – they are the ones on whose shoulders women like me stand.
No matter what our personal circumstances are as women, I believe we must never forget how far we have come and how much further we still must go.
No matter which part of the world we live in; 8th March is only a 24-hour period. We must stand up and be counted for the other 364 days of the year.
I therefore have this charge for all women myself included:
1. Love yourself
You cannot expect anyone to treat you with unconditional positive regard if you don’t love the women staring at you back in the mirror. Even though this has become a cliché of our modern age, the words are meaningless if you don’t act upon it. There are no excuses neither will there be any perfect day to love yourself. You might as well start now. Life is short and meant to be lived not endured.
2. Embrace your uniqueness
Forget about whatever cookie-cutter frame you have tried so hard to fit into. You do the world a disservice when you don’t express your originality. Your views, ideas and perspective are keys to solving problems that no-one else has. No matter how many people have tackled a puzzle, your approach will be different because you bring your quirks into the mix. As a woman, make no apologies for your uniqueness no matter how many so-called experts surround you. Enhance, promote and use it for the betterment of humanity. I dare you to be your authentic self – strength and flaws included.
3. Be secure in who you are
If you measure your self-worth by the fickle societal standards, you put yourself in bondage of your own choosing. Position, job roles, material wealth, social status – all those will come and go. If your self-esteem is solely based on those things, what happens when they change as they often do? If you were to lose all or some of those things, will that make you any less of a human being? The quick answer is no, but you have to believe it. Until you are truly secure in who you are as a woman, you won’t be able to give the best of who you are as you’re always hiding behind a mask of perfection. Insecurity will rob you of peace and joy no matter how much you possess in material terms.
4. Collaborate with and celebrate other women
“There is a special place in hell for women who don’t help other women”. Madeleine Albright
I echo this sentiment that refusing to help other women when it is in your power to do so is a well-deserved misery that so many bring upon themselves. How many times have you heard that some of the worst managers who have treated women badly have been their fellow women. It is surprising that while we all agree in theory that we are stronger together than apart, the infighting amongst women can be the breeding ground for some of the worst cases of exploitation that we see. Being secure in yourself means that you don’t feel threatened by another woman’s success.
So, what if it took you twenty years to get a position that took another woman a couple of years? If you truly believe that your contributions are unique just like theirs, you will have no issue with celebrating and promoting them. It also means that you are open to their ideas and willing to work together to achieve common goals.
5. Pay kindness forward
No matter how difficult your life as a woman might have been, at some point, someone would have shown you kindness. Whether it is the one teacher who believed in you when nobody else did or the friend who drops everything to come to your rescue when you needed her or the stranger who helped you up when you fell in the street – kindness is all around us. It is up to each one of us as women to pay the kindness forward whenever we have the opportunity. Rather than waiting forever for grand gestures; be kind to other women in the ordinary course of day-to-day living.
If there is a good deed to be done for another woman, don’t wait for someone else to do the honours when it is in your power to get it done.
Don’t keep quiet when you have a voice to speak for those without a voice.
Stand up and be counted. That is the true meaning of being a powerful woman.
Be inspired to soar.
Happy International Women’s Day