As we celebrate International Women’s Day on 8th of March, let us recall all the women that have impacted and inspired us, gave birth to us, paved the way for us in fighting for equality and to have a place in this world. We salute them for the challenges they have had to go through; they remind us to keep striving for progress, peace, and courage to go after our dreams.
Here are some of the women whom I have found inspiring and the list still grows:
Rosa Parks, - What she taught us: ‘Each person must live their life as a model for others’.
Amelia Earhart - What she taught us: To do everything in your power to achieve your dream, from little things such as sleeping in your leather jacket to make it seem ‘worn’ to daring to fly across oceans solo.
Mother Teresa - What she taught us: Compassion, love and care of the marginalised; courage for following her mission.
Audrey Hepburn - What she taught us: Endless optimism: ‘Nothing is impossible, the word itself says ‘I’m possible!’’
Eleanor Roosevelt - What she taught us: ‘Do what you feel in your heart to be right – for you’ll be criticized anyway. You’ll be damned if you do, and damned if you don’t.’
Maya Angelou - What she taught us: ‘I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.’
Sinead O’Connor - What she taught us: Dare to be yourself.
My mother and my grandmothers - What they taught me: Courage, strength, grit, hard work, compassion, and the fierceness of their maternal love.
My dear diverse friends / sisters from around the globe - What they taught me: Wisdom, confidence, love, strength, courage, laughter in moments of crisis and joy, persistence, perseverance, compassion and the fierceness of their protective love.
So how do we get there as individuals (regardless of your gender, race or religion), as role models for our children and those around us, to continue to strive for what these women have stood up for - strength, courage in adversity, justice, and yet retain that touch of gentleness and grace.
Recruit supporters / soul sisters who will cheer you on - even experienced professionals to act as mentors, or a therapist who will help you look for the strength within you. Meet with them regularly for support.
Speak up! Your ideas matter. Don’t be afraid to share them and join in the debate. Ask questions and seek clarification if you don’t understand – chances are you aren’t the only one. Also, take a seat at the table…literally. I’ve seen many women choose the seats against the walls, instantly sending the message that you’re “lesser than" and I am guilty of this too!
Stand up to bullies. Bullies come in many shapes and sizes, both women and men; it could be via email, a behaviour or words that have been used towards you. If you are being bullied, collect your thoughts and emotions, and draw your boundaries. You may opt to speak (not argue or shout/ yell and no physical violence) to them via phone or in-person to continue the conversation,*always in a safe environment. Finally, if the problem persists, inform someone who can speak together with you. It’s important to stop the behaviour immediately.
Take yourself seriously and make decisions confidently. Pay attention to the way you communicate and how you respond; be confident, and assertive. There is no such thing as "Oh, it's ok, never mind etc" and giving lee way for people to continue taking you for granted! If there is an apology needed to be received, state it. If it needs to be given, give it. If not, draw your boundary and move on.
Be kind to all you meet.
Learn to laugh at all moments; don't let anything or anyone steal your joy from you! You get to chose your response and consequences.
And finally, remember to help other young women reach for the stars by sharing the resources and insights you’ve learned along the way. Always look for opportunities to help other women. Keep shining and persevering as our fore mothers did.