Today is International Women’s Day, a day that is celebrated around the world. It recognizes the strength of women. The importance of women and the power of women. It is also a day that that makes us all aware of the inequality that still exists for women.
Did you know:
Women earn 23% less than men globally.
Women occupy only 24% of parliamentary seats worldwide.
1 in 3 have experienced physical or sexual violence and 200M girls-women have suffered genital mutilation.
Those are scary and unfortunately very REAL facts.
I was very fortunate to have been invited by a colleague and friend to attend two events this past week that recognized and celebrated women. Hearing the stories of the guest speakers and award recipients was humbling. I listened to stories of women who had faced and overcome great adversity and heard from women who were making huge changes in their communities by up-liftng and supporting other women.
As the mother of a daughter, I have always tried to instill in her the knowledge and confidence that she could be anything she wanted. That there were no obstacles too great for her to overcome. That she has the right to any and all opportunities and that her sex would not stop her from fulfilling her dreams.
Is that a reality…for the most part yes. But truth be known, there are still huge discrepancies in how women are treated in the work force. In many cases we are overlooked for promotions, are under paid and are often forced to choose between our careers and our families. Women are judged as parents far harder than men. No one talks about a man negatively if he works around the clock in order to climb the corporate ladder…but if a woman/mother does that ….well that’s a different story. Yes, things are changing. And yes, many men are working hard on our behalf to change work and home environments. And we are very grateful.
Celebrating International Women’s Day is just that. A celebration. It is not about “picking on men!” It’s a movement that celebrates all the progress we are making in our fight for equality. It’s a movement toward equality not just for women, but for everyone. And we thank all the men who have helped bring about these changes and who continue to do so. We celebrate the men and women who are raising strong independent daughters and raising sons who are respectful, loving and supportive of the women in their lives.
And ladies, we all need to be our own best advocates. We need to ensure that we are not contributing to the problem. Gossiping, excluding and bullying each other has to stop. Putting each other down only hurts all of us. Competing with each other for attention only brings negative attention to us all. We shouldn’t have to make another girl/woman feel bad about themselves in order for us to feel good. That’s atrocious. Why do we do that to ourselves? Why are we so mean and shallow sometimes instead of being supportive and kind? By raising each other up we all benefit.
I have been very honest about how I have struggled with my own “womanhood” since my double mastectomy. I no longer feel feminine, attractive or sexy. Even with five reconstructive surgeries I haven’t reached the place where I have accepted how I look and how I feel about myself…and this affects how I feel about myself in the world. I used to feel like a strong, confident woman…and now I struggle with that too. Should my physical appearance alter who I am as a “woman?” Does losing my breasts make me any less of a woman? In the perfect world it shouldn’t. But we don’t live or exist in a perfect world. And I have experienced that first hand.
Today, let’s all celebrate each other. For what we are and what we’d like to be. Let’s open our minds and our hearts to our friends, family, neighbors, colleagues and yes, even strangers. Let’s see each other in a positive light and celebrate our differences, our uniqueness rather than our flaws or weakness. Today let’s all be Wonder Women and Men. Today let’s celebrate the power within…and use that power to do good. Today let’s all be super hero’s and fight inequality for everyone, everywhere.
President of As You Like It Marketing & Communications Inc. Award winning speaker and author. Breast cancer fighter and blogger. I’m sharing my journey…the good, the bad and the ugly. Hoping to help anyone else that has been touched by breast cancer be it you or someone you know or love.