I spent the day with about 800 women at the ‘Be Inspired’ Conference today celebrating International Women’s Day – and was truly inspired.
Unity through Diversity:
The speakers came from very different walks of life and there were some common themes as to why we would count them ‘successful’. We can all learn from them!
These women followed their passions. They had a dream, and made that dream work for them.
2. ENERGY & DEDICATION
The proliferation of Reality TV shows, and the attention garnered through social media can lead us to believe that success is quickly and easily achievable. But each of these women had dedicated time, energy, intelligence, grit and determination to become leaders in their fields.
3. WILLINGNESS TO STAND UP AND BE COUNTED
Many of the women had become leaders in fields often thought of as bastions of the male sex. They had suffered contempt, criticism, humiliation and condescension on their way to the top. Nevertheless they had stood their ground, fought the fight, and stood out as beacons of hope and role models for those of us less willing to be seen and heard.
4. COLLABORATION, KINDNESS AND GENEROSITY
Not only had these women fought for themselves, they had all freely and generously given of their time and talents to foster talent, to mentor younger women, and to reach out to those less fortunate or skilled. They all realised that although we can strive to stand out and be different, ultimately collaboration is the way forward.
A common theme was the difficulty that many women face in trying to ‘have it all’ – i.e have a family and career. It is interesting (and somewhat dispiriting) that men seldom face this question.
So I have this challenge – how do we join together to change social norms, change attitudes and ultimately government policy. We have much to learn from our Scandinavian counterparts. In 2020, Finland will change its entire schooling system, no longer teaching by subject, but by phenomenon. Paternity leave is not only offered, but encouraged and supported, in most Scandinavian countries. If they can make such radical changes, why can’t we, and what do we need to do to make it happen?
And now, having attended the Conference, been to work afterwards, cooked a roast dinner for my daughter and cleared it up, written a couple of articles, tweeted and emailed, I need to go to bed!