7 Actions to Take in Celebration of Women’s Month
As Women’s Month draws to a close, I am deeply reflective of the different roles I play as a woman and I am immensely grateful for each one. I am a daughter, a sister, a friend, a mother, a grandmother, a Liberian woman, a Minnesotan, an immigrant, a CEO of color, a mentor, and a wife. I had the most wonderful grandmother, an entrepreneur who taught me to believe in my dreams. She was a kind and gentle mother who insisted that I temper criticism with kindness. I have four amazing daughters who navigated the wonders of being African and American as well as a circle of women friends of all shades and colors that sustain me, and a husband and son that support me.
At its core, this is what Women’s Month is about – celebrating the achievements and challenges of the many roles and the accomplishments of ordinary women across the world. From the entrepreneur in India, the Ebola fighter in Liberia, the fashion designer in Paris, to the singer in New York, they all remind us what it means to be gloriously, wonderfully female.
I want to offer 7 actions that we can take today in celebration of Women’s Month.
Think of this as the seven secrets of being a highly successful international woman.
#1 Become a Scholar of Your Own Experiences.
French Philosopher Montange once said, “In the experience of myself, I would be wise, if I were a great scholar. Become a scholar of your own experiences. Become a wise scholar. Be clear on what you stand for and what your non-negotiables are. Take care of yourself and cultivate habits that will sustain your soul.”
#2. Be Bold and Invest in a Young Girl.
I promise you this is a dividend that will pay off tenfold. As women, we should make it our mission to help girls meet their full potential. Years ago, I encouraged my daughter to sign up for her second grade science fair even though she did not think she was smart enough to compete. She went on to win first place in the science fair 5 years in a row.
In her article, “Seven Reasons to be Optimistic on International Women’s Day”, Moira Forbes points out that there will be 1.4 million technology jobs in the U.S. At the current rate of students graduating with computer science degrees, only 29% of graduates are projected to be women. We should push for more young girls to go into the fields of technology, engineering, manufacturing, construction, and politics despite the odds against them.
It is equally important to ensure that young boys grow into young men that are free of gender bias and respectful of girls and women. At Youthprise I am fortunate to work with young women who are smarter than I am and with men who understand their role in raising daughters who are strong and confident.
#3. Become A Gender Statistic Geek.
Being a gender statistic geek means knowing how to access reliable data and how to identify gaps. It means staying up to date with the condition of women in order to address disparities more accurately.
The World’s Women: Trends and Statistics is a report that presents the latest statistics on the status of women and men around the world. It is a comprehensive compilation and a source of gender specific information on eight topics including population and families, health, education, work, power and decision-making, violence against women, environment, and poverty.
#4. Have a Women’s Movie Marathon.
My personal favorite movies have been Hidden Figures, Pray the Devil Back to Hell, Girlhood, and We will Rise: Michelle Obama Mission to Educate Girls Around the World. Netflix has some great options. If movies are not your thing, consider making a list of books by women around the world and reading them to expand your horizons.
#5. Open Doors for Leadership and Economic Opportunity for African Women, Women of Color, Immigrant Women.
Supporting young entrepreneurs is a powerful lever of community change. We know entrepreneurs are likely to hire people who look like them and reinvest in their own communities. It is important to support the dreams and aspirations of young women. Volunteer at a non-profit of your choice, become a mentor, make a donation.
#6. Unite with Women Around the World.
United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres urges us to pledge to do everything we can to overcome entrenched prejudice, support engagement and activism, and promote gender equality through the empowerment of women. The UN’s 2017 theme for International Women’s Day is “Women in the Changing World of Work: Planet 50-50 by 2030.”
The United Nations’ observance of International Women’s day calls upon all of us to ensure that the world of work works for all women. This includes ensuring all girls and boys complete free, equitable, and quality primary and secondary education and that all girls and boys have access to early childhood development, care and primary education by 2030.
UN Women Executive Director, Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka says, “We want to construct a different world of work for women. As they grow up, girls must be exposed to a broad range of careers, and encouraged to make choice that lead beyond the traditional service and care options to jobs in industry, art, public service, modern agriculture, and science.”
#7. We must remain hopeful.
One of my heroes is Nelson Mandela and he admonishes us that it is in times of despair, we must remain hopeful. If ever there was a time to heed Mandela’s advice, it is now. I remain optimistic about the future. When my daughter was six years old she lost her front teeth and was excited for the tooth fairy to come. She said to me, “When the tooth fairy comes, I will be so excited!” In all my life, I had never had the presence of mind to assign gender to the tooth fairy. I have hope in young people and their ability to realize complete gender equity in the future.
In the words of Mary Annie Rodmacher, “Live with intention. Walk to the edge. Listen hard. Practice wellness. Play with abandon. Laugh. Choose with no regret. Continue to learn. Appreciate your friends. Do what you love. Live as if this is all there is”