That's right – DIVORCE party. A party to celebrate the completion of a divorce. Sound strange? That's what I used to think…until I became a party planner and saw the positive side of this fast-growing trend.
Divorce parties have become a booming addition to the event planning industry in recent years. Of course, some tend to skew to the negative (think – cakes with knives, ex-husband photo dart boards, ex-wife piñatas…). But let me be perfectly clear about the philosophy I share with my clients when planning their divorce party: It's not about fanning the flames of hate. It's not about making a mockery of what was once a central part of your life, or about trashing the ex. Yes, getting divorced is very painful even in the best of circumstances, but it's much more productive to resist those negative impulses and focus instead on the positive aspects of your new life status.
It's important to remember, this whole thing started with love and marriage. I encourage my clients to choose the high road, to celebrate new beginnings with friends, family and fun. Women (or men) who are strong enough to get themselves out of a bad situation, for the sake of themselves and/or for their children, deserve to move on in an affirmative, liberating way. It's okay – even healthy – to feel relief and to look forward to moving on to the next chapter of your life. You just have to give yourself permission!
Says divorce attorney Helen M. Dukhan, co-founder and partner of HD Family Law Group, “My motto is: 'Nothing says a good day like a divorce'...not because I'm being funny, not because the process isn't difficult, long and sometimes super expensive, but because of how my clients feel when it's finalized and they are FREE! They are empowered. That is why I love my job, because I help my clients prepare for the divorce, guide them through it, and then I celebrate with them once it is over and done with."
So…are you ready to open your mind to the idea of a divorce party? Here are 10 great reasons to feel good about your – or your friend's – choice to have one:
Show the world you're fine, you're strong, and you're moving forward.
Embrace new beginnings
This is the first day of the rest of your life. A party is a great way to kick off your new independence and leave the past behind.
Ease a difficult time
After going through a rough time, you deserve to surround yourself with supportive and encouraging people, and let them shower you with love. What could be better than having all your BFFs and loved ones together in the same place – celebrating YOU?
Take a risk
It might feel uncomfortable or unusual at first, but opening yourself up to a new experience will make you feel empowered.
Do something fun
Consider picking a fun theme and bringing it to life with special décor, a fancy cake, and even your own signature cocktail. Whatever works for you. Use your imagination!
Take some amazing photos
According to professional photographer, Celestina Ando, “photos are a great way to feel empowered." You'll have a whole new collection of great pics to look at and remind yourself how much you are loved. (Not to mention sharing them on social media – with you looking fabulous and having the time of your life!)
Open yourself up to meeting new people
Ask your guests to each bring a friend you can meet and expand your horizons. If you're ready, announce to your family and friends that you're open to dating again. You'd be surprised how quickly your network can grow.
Okay, this sounds shallow, but hey, now that your belongings have been split up, you may need stuff.
Express your gratitude
For everyone who has been there for you through thick and thin – lending an ear, offering advice, providing support, being a friend – throw a party to thank them for standing by your side. Everybody wins!
Give yourself a little TLC
Book a pre-party spa or beauty appointment, get glammed up, and wear your favorite outfit or splurge on a new one. Show off the new you, single and ready to take on the world!
Parties are meant to acknowledge life events – whatever we deem those to be. Divorce parties are becoming more and more mainstreamed as a way to acknowledge that phase of life and move on to the next one. Instead of staying lost in the sorrow or bitterness of the past, choose optimism and positivity for the future. Live it up!
Women of the Middle East have made significant strides in the past decade in a number of sectors, but huge gaps remain within the labor market, especially in leadership roles.
A huge number of institutions have researched and quantified trends of and obstacles to the full utilization of females in the marketplace. Gabriela Ramos, is the Chief-of-Staff to The Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), an alliance of thirty-six governments seeking to improve economic growth and world trade. The OECD reports that increasing participation in the women's labor force could easily result in a $12 trillion jump in the global GDP by the year 2025.
To realize the possibilities, attention needs to be directed toward the most significantly underutilized resource: the women of MENA—the Middle East and North African countries. Educating the men of MENA on the importance of women working and holding leadership roles will improve the economies of those nations and lead to both national and global rewards, such as dissolving cultural stereotypes.
The OECD reports that increasing participation in the women's labor force could easily result in a $12 trillion jump in the global GDP by the year 2025.
In order to put this issue in perspective, the MENA region has the second highest unemployment rate in the world. According to the World Bank, more women than men go to universities, but for many in this region the journey ends with a degree. After graduating, women tend to stay at home due to social and cultural pressures. In 2017, the OECD estimated that unemployment among women is costing some $575 billion annually.
Forbes and Arabian Business have each published lists of the 100 most powerful Arab businesswomen, yet most female entrepreneurs in the Middle East run family businesses. When it comes to managerial positions, the MENA region ranks last with only 13 percent women among the total number of CEOs according to the Swiss-based International Labor Organization (ILO.org publication "Women Business Management – Gaining Momentum in the Middle East and Africa.")
The lopsided tendency that keeps women in family business—remaining tethered to the home even if they are prepared and capable of moving "into the world"—is noted in a report prepared by OECD. The survey provides factual support for the intuitive concern of cultural and political imbalance impeding the progression of women into the workplace who are otherwise fully capable. The nations of Algeria, Tunisia, Morocco, Libya, Jordan and Egypt all prohibit gender discrimination and legislate equal pay for men and women, but the progressive-sounding checklist of their rights fails to impact on "hiring, wages or women's labor force participation." In fact, the report continues, "Women in the six countries receive inferior wages for equal work… and in the private sector women rarely hold management positions or sit on the boards of companies."
This is more than a feminist mantra; MENA's males must learn that they, too, will benefit from accelerating the entry of women into the workforce on all levels. Some projections of value lost because women are unable to work; or conversely the amount of potential revenue are significant.
Elissa Freiha, founder of Womena, the leading empowerment platform in the Middle East, emphasizes the financial benefit of having women in high positions when communicating with men's groups. From a business perspective it has been proven through the market Index provider MSCI.com that companies with more women on their boards deliver 36% better equity than those lacking board diversity.
She challenges companies with the knowledge that, "From a business level, you can have a potential of 63% by incorporating the female perspective on the executive team and the boards of companies."
Freiha agrees that educating MENA's men will turn the tide. "It is difficult to argue culturally that a woman can disconnect herself from the household and community." Her own father, a United Arab Emirates native of Lebanese descent, preferred she get a job in the government, but after one month she quit and went on to create Womena. The fact that this win-lose situation was supported by an open-minded father, further propelled Freiha to start her own business.
"From a business level, you can have a potential of 63% by incorporating the female perspective on the executive team and the boards of companies." - Elissa Frei
While not all men share the open-mindedness of Freiha's dad, a striking number of MENA's women have convincingly demonstrated that the talent pool is skilled, capable and all-around impressive. One such woman is the prominent Sheikha Lubna bint Khalid bin Sultan Al-Qasimi, who is currently serving as a cabinet minister in the United Arab Emirates and previously headed a successful IT strategy company.
Al-Qasimi exemplifies the potential for MENA women in leadership, but how can one example become a cultural norm? Marcello Bonatto, who runs Re: Coded, a program that teaches young people in Turkey, Iraq and Yemen to become technology leaders, believes that multigenerational education is the key. He believes in the importance of educating the parent along with their offspring, "particularly when it comes to women." Bonatto notes the number of conflict-affected youth who have succeeded through his program—a boot camp training in technology.
The United Nations Women alongside Promundo—a Brazil-based NGO that promotes gender-equality and non-violence—sponsored a study titled, "International Men and Gender Equality Survey of the Middle East and North Africa in 2017."
This study surveyed ten thousand men and women between the ages of 18 and 59 across both rural and urban areas in Egypt, Lebanon, Morocco and the Palestinian Authority. It reports that, "Men expected to control their wives' personal freedoms from what they wear to when the couple has sex." Additionally, a mere one-tenth to one-third of men reported having recently carried out a more conventionally "female task" in their home.
Although the MENA region is steeped in historical tribal culture, the current conflict of gender roles is at a crucial turning point. Masculine power structures still play a huge role in these countries, and despite this obstacle, women are on the rise. But without the support of their nations' men this will continue to be an uphill battle. And if change won't come from the culture, maybe it can come from money. By educating MENA's men about these issues, the estimated $27 trillion that women could bring to their economies might not be a dream. Women have been empowering themselves for years, but it's time for MENA's men to empower its women.