Happy International Women’s Day! Today I learnt that the first IWD was in 1911, and today it marks a global day to celebrate all women for their social, cultural, economic, and political achievements. This year’s campaign theme is Each for Equal. Women have come a long way since 1911, with more females in the boardroom and in the political sphere, but I feel there is still some way to go.
Women are still outnumbered in many industries and sectors and oftentimes women are not paid as much as men. Sometimes women really do have to work twice as hard to be recognised for half as much, and I have personally walked into many rooms where I am the only female.
But before me there were women who strived, succeeded, and soared in the business world. Each workplace I have been at there was at least one woman near the top, pushing through that glass ceiling, blazing the trail for the rest of us. And I am thankful for them. Even in media and film we are finally seeing some super heroines taking the limelight, it took us a while, but here we are. We can see others do it before us and so we can do it too.
This day also reminds me of a TED talk by Carla Harris, where she spoke about sponsors in the workplace: who carries your papers into the room. To identify a sponsor you have to ask yourself: who has a seat at the decision making table, who has exposure to your work, who can vouch for you, and who has power. Harris states: if someone is worthy of your currency, spend it. One sure way to grow your power is to give it away, and your voice is at the heart of your power. Use it.
We are all in this together. Womanhood and sisterhood is a powerful thing. Poet Nikita Gill wrote a wonderful world-flipping poem about Medusa, a Gorgon, who defies the expectations of a (female) victim: Perhaps the truth about Gorgons is they are just women, women who do not bend to the world or fit into the narrow mould you want them to.
One person can make a difference: be the change you want to see in the world. Be a sponsor. Be a Gorgon.