Making International Women's Day Count

Written by Steph Redhead  | 
What does International Women's Day mean to me?
It’s been an inspiring week for women on social media as the celebratory tributes and uplifting quotes were posted to mark International Women's Day.  I loved it! I got goose-bumps and watery eyes and felt proud to be a woman and inspired etc etc etc….
But is that enough?
International Women’s Day celebrates the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women, and rightly so, but that is not all!  The second part is the call to action, which seems to not be so highly published or glamorized. 
2018 in New Zealand is a special year as we mark the 125th anniversary of women’s suffrage.  It was on 19 September 1893 that all women in New Zealand over the age of 21 were given the right to vote.  The FIRST self-governing country in the world to give women the right to vote in parliamentary elections! The fight and sacrifice of those women 125 years ago is definitely worth the acknowledgement and celebration - I would like to think that had I been alive back then I would have been right amongst it all too, fighting the good fight alongside great friends and sisters!  But as I ponder that thought... I realise that there is still a fight going on now… and actually I’m not involved.
 I’m all about acknowledging and celebrating International Womens Day but I seemed to have overlooked the second part of it - the call to action. We have to celebrate where we have come from but unfortunately we are still not ‘there' yet. There is more to be done, more battles to win, and more prejudice to overcome.  So I guess it’s not enough to just acknowledge and celebrate.  After we are inspired and uplifted we owe it to the women that got us to this point to ask ourselves, what can I do?


3 Ways to Make International Women’s Day Count:

1)  Acknowledge and encourage the women in your life.
Let's stop copying, comparing and competing with each other! We all have unique gifts, talents, abilities, personalities, skills, and experiences, not to mention life purposes and callings! I want to be a woman who see’s and celebrates that uniqueness and takes the time to encourage and cheer on the individuals rather than let it intimidate me and my life.  So what if after this week of celebrating all of women kind, we break it down a little and decide to get in touch with just a couple of women in our own lives and acknowledge, encourage and celebrate them. We could let them know what we love about them, and what we are proud of them for, and what we are cheering them on for the future. 
We are stronger together and that culture shift from competing to celebrating starts with us.

2)  Educate yourself on the current fight.
We owe it to our sister suffragettes from 125 years ago to at least be aware what our current fight is and seek to understand what is going on.  This year we are seeing two very powerful campaigns - #metoo/#timesup which is addressing physical and sexual harassment, abuse and violence towards women, and also #pressforprogress which is addressing gender parity and inclusiveness.  So maybe next time we go to check Facebook why don’t we first google #metoo #timesup or #pressforprogress and spend a few minutes reading and see what we can learn.
3)  Get involved somehow.
I get it - we are all “too busy” or have a million reasons why we can justify not getting involved.  We leave it up to the Helen Clark's and Jacinda Arderns of this era to pioneer for us and challenge those stereotypes and fight the fight.  But actually no one is asking us to run for Prime Minister or even to vote for her to become Prime Minister if we don’t agree with their party’s politics.  BUT we can ALL play a part in raising the bar when it comes to the conversations we are a part of that discuss HER (not her politics or policies).  We need to stir up our courage and speak up when the talk becomes derogatory or personal etc. Regardless of our political affiliations, we could all have her back as a woman.
Perhaps getting involved is not a massive task to undertake or a risk to life or limb. Perhaps getting involved is incorporated in our every day life but we need to do it with more awareness and intention.
  • We get involved when we challenge conversation around us about women that is not ok.
  • We get involved in the way we raise our children and speak to them about these things and model behaviour.
  • We get involved by what we engage with on social media and what we share for others to see and engage with.
  • We get involved when we sign petitions to the government or take part in surveys to help research and understanding.
There are many ways to get involved but these are a few options that don’t take much extra ‘work’, but if we all did it we potentially could see a significant shift happen in our lifetime - what a privilege!
So perhaps on this international women's day we still acknowledge and enjoy the celebration and the inspiration and the goosebumps, but we also embrace the challenge in the call to action even if it’s just small steps first.  We owe it to the sisters who got us this far, and we owe it to the sisters who haven’t even been born yet,
I am woman - hear me roar!
Let’s do this!

Posted by Steph Redhead


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