Spend a few minutes online today and you will see many gems, and slogans that ambitious women would do well to pin up on their wall. Messages of appreciating women and respecting the work they do. This is lovely – so thank you, if I do say so myself!
Women became the big story in 2017 with the #MeToo movement – from online petitions to open letters, from the women’s march to #Timesup. It was a year of women speaking out, of Wonder Woman, and of grievances broadcasted on social media. But there are lessons in every strand of these historic events, and although we still live in a world where women are often undermined, underpaid and underestimated – these are indisputably signs of progress.
This International Women’s Day, as we #pressforprogress, it is imperative for this next wave of feminism to persist and to get bigger and bolder. #MeToo has become a defining moment, but there are still many voices we need to hear, believe and amplify. I want to press another message to all women today – one of unwavering self-belief.
Ask most women whether they have the right to equality at work and the answer will be a resounding yes, but ask the same women whether they’d feel confident asking for a raise, a promotion, or equal pay, and some reticence creeps in.
There is a lesson that comes through loud and clear in Sheryl Sandberg’s book – Lean In.
Women need to shift from thinking ‘I’m not ready to do that’ to thinking ‘I want to do that — and I’ll learn by doing it.’
This message really resonated with me, because so many opportunities can be unlocked with a bit of confidence! Many men don’t think twice about applying for jobs before they have the precise qualifications necessary. Doing this takes some bravado – or should I say, bravada! But it can be the most efficient way to push forward into something new and challenging. And we may surprise ourselves with what we can accomplish!
Sometimes, I feel that although I have the will to lead, not to mention the requisite commitment, intelligence and ferocious work ethic – that it may not be enough in the notoriously male-dominated world where the paucity of women leaders among the ranks of tech founders and CEOs is still all too visible.
My appeal to women to be more ambitious by having more self belief, which can sound like a finger-wagging admonishment when taken out of context, is framed in more encouraging terms when we address self doubt that has held us back for many years. We can’t be complacent. Now, more than ever, it is so vitally important that we come together collectively to accelerate towards gender parity timeline.
It takes immense courage to speak your truth, but just as we would never outsource our safety, our judgement, or our freedom to anyone else, we should stand and speak out for our own truths.
Happy International Women’s Day to all the strong women out there who inspire me everyday!