Consumed by my professional and personal responsibilities, International Women’s Day came and went this year with little excitement. At first I thought my lack of involvement in the day was a reflection of my commitment to feminism but after taking a deep breath, I was reminded that no matter the day, there is always an opportunity to share your story in an effort to perpetuate change. My participation in IWD this year will be a continued effort of joining, broadening and contributing to the conversation regardless of the day. No use feeling guilty for not having supported my fellow females on Thursday, but rather keep sharing my voice to empower women to share their own. As Oprah said: “What I know for sure is speaking your truth is the most powerful tool we all have.”
But the tone of voice seems to be changing. An email crossed my desk on Thursday acknowledging IWD as an opportunity to congratulate women for their achievements and successes across industries, roles and platforms. My immediate reaction was that they had completely missed the point and purpose of this day but soon realized that our opinions had once been the same. When I first started educating myself on feminism, its definition and foundation, I realized it was something I had always stood firm on but didn’t know how to communicate. After attending multiple women focused events, I was impressed and overwhelmed by the achievements, accolades and successes women have seen as entrepreneurs, executives, public servants, etc. It encouraged me to begin the pursuit of finding a way to leave my mark and has continued to provide a source of inspiration to share my story and continue writing my blog. However, there has been a shift in the dynamic of International Women’s Day - one I’m sure I’m not alone in feeling. There has been a change in perspective and an evolution in the interpretation of March 8th.
International Women’s Day has provided a platform to raise awareness of issues that are affecting women worldwide and initiate action for change. Likely fueled by the political climate south of the border, we’re reminded daily of sexual harassment cases that continue to fuel the #MeToo and Time’s Up movements and while witnessing public rallies such as the the Women’s March. These movements are both valid and necessary in bringing our attention to important causes and perpetuating action for change. And while I believe we have moved past the theme of celebrating women on IWD, I can’t help but feel a sense of hostility has emerged. In order to realize the change we seek, it is imperative that all humans work together and rally to make change happen. And we can’t do it alone; we need to stand alongside our fathers, our brothers, our sons, our friends. Humanity needs to be united in order to create a powerful force for change.
Amongst the buzz and hype of media and politics, it’s easy to feel lost and insignificant as we press for progress. There have been many times where I’ve taken pause before writing a blog because I’m unsure if my voice matters. But if I’ve learned anything since I’ve started writing, I’m confident that by sharing my message, I know I’m doing something to contribute. Every small step has impact and the ability to encourage someone else to take one themselves. After all, don’t a bunch of small steps help us cover more ground than just a few? It’s not standing for that inappropriate comment at work, it’s throwing out the status quo, it’s educating those young and old and surrounding ourselves with other human beings who believe in equal rights for all.
When it comes to your tribe, I encourage you to continue to take the time to acknowledge the women around you; to thank them for encouraging you to stand up and to be strong. It doesn’t mean you have to make a speech, or lead a rally, but by lifting up those around us, we’ll continue to build strength to stand for what is right in our communities and beyond. Because when we do use our voice to speak our truth we are united. We are stronger. We are powerful.
Please share how you recognized International Women's Day this year in the comments below.