When I think about the women I know, I am very lucky to know many resilient, smart and strong women. It’s International Women’s Day. Be Bold for Change, is this year’s theme. I know a lot of women, who are smarter than they think they are, more resilient than they give themselves credit for and stronger much stronger. I am one of those women.
Global women’s marches demonstrate that women still need change. There is still so much that has to change, those demonstrations represent the strength of frustrations, of the women and the men that marched.
I still come across women who shirk describing themselves as feminist, with comments that they “don’t hate men”. That they want to “measured on their own merits”. If women were measured on their own merits, there would be more women at the top of our financial institutions. Women would be equally represented in law and in Parliament. Our daughters, daughters will not achieve equal pay until 2086. I don’t hate men, I just want something equal.
One women a week is still killed by her partner, there is still unacceptable levels of violence against women. When “grabbing pussy” is still considered by powerful men and their counterparts acceptable “locker room” talk. We need feminism, to come together and speak out against violence against women.
The media harries women, persistently finding fault in how women, look, what they say, what they do. It isn’t comparable to how men are portrayed. What message is that to young women?
I am a feminist, but I could do better. Starting with myself.
International women’s day, can be about celebrating the great and good women. The inspirational leaders, the CEOs, the award-winners. They are women to admire. Maybe we should stop and remember to admire the women working long hours in low paid jobs, the women struggling on the street with a screaming toddler, ordinary women. Women like us.
Be bold for change
I watched one of the IWD videos. It asks the question “How are you being bold?” Ann Francke, CEO of the Chartered Management Institute, urged women to “be our own advocates”.
I am not my own advocate. A couple of weeks ago, I wrote an email introducing myself as “not having much to offer?” Who does that? I do. Often. It feels easier than saying, I can do this and that. Avoids anyone being disappointed.
If a friend did the same, I would tell them, they wouldn’t disappoint. I could give them ALL the reasons why. I can give a good pep talk. (I almost wrote ‘quite good’. I’m being bold today). If you come sit at my kitchen table, I’ll make you a cup of tea and you might tell me your fears or difficulties. I can give solid advice. I can be your cheerleader, and tell you all the ways you are brilliant. I’ve had years of experience of working with people and I’ve learnt how to pull those things out of others.
While, my own internal dialogue, is the opposite, I focus on what “I’m not very good at” (in my head, lots of things). I hear the negatives much louder than the positives.
I am not my own advocate. I came to realise, that I’d been waiting for someone else to advocate for me. Except, how would anyone know. I struggle to admit my own lack of confidence, it is another failing. I started being more honest, in the hope, that someone would give me that pep talk back. That isn’t how it works. I need to own my own pep talks.
We should be our own advocates
List our own achievements
I wrote a list of the things that I can do. My skills. My traits. I looked back at my life, I’ve travelled alone, I’ve fixed things. My working career, the communicating, the influencing. The skills I’ve learnt just sitting here creating this blog. I encouraged myself to label the list “things that I am good at”. It felt bloody awkward, but my aim is to be bold. There was so much I’d forgotten.
I’m not alone in this, there is a well know statistic that states that women won’t apply for a job unless they are 100% qualified, while a man will apply for the same job if he has 60% of what is needed. I volunteer, once a week, I share my skills. I show people who are being paid, how to do things that will benefit them and their organisation and no one pays me. Because I am not bold enough. Beyond the virtual world, I don’t ask people to read this blog or even tell them about it. Because I am not bold enough
I’m shifting those thought patterns and in doing so making myself happier.
I encourage my son to be proud and bold. The odds are stacked better for him, but I don’t want him to limit himself because he saw me doing that.
“be our own advocates”.
I am smart, resilient and strong. Women are.