It's been a tumultuous 12 months since our last International Women’s day - much has changed and even more has been gained in the last year in terms of equality and women’s rights.
The day has historically been one to celebrate - its origins however were born of necessity rather than celebration, at a time when women were second class citizens and at a crossroads in their fight for equal rights.
In 1914 for example, IWD was held in Germany and England and was dedicated to women's fight for the right to vote. Women marched from Bow to Trafalgar Square in London. The noise was raucous and undeniable - women were desperate for change. In many countries it was indecorous for a young woman to go out in the streets without a male consort or female elder - the first World War would of course change this. Nevertheless it was a source of deep perturbance for women who were secretly plotting a female revolution the likes of which the world have never seen previously. Unfortunately, it wouldn't be for another four years that they would get the right to vote in both Germany and England.
Photo: The Week.
The very conception of a women’s day brought with it much difficulties, especially at a time when women were free from the shackles of war. Wartime accounts detail how “unaffected” the women were by the trenches, often demonized for their exemption from the fighting - even though of course they were barred from participation.
"There are so many occasions when a woman is in a tight spot which only she herself can face, that it is rather rare to find her trying to share her burden or ask for assistance on the ground that she is a woman" - Eleanor Roosevelt, My Day, 1939
It’s a day that has come to represent defiance, derision, unity and inclusion, a day that resembles for SWAAY, a Christmas of sorts, where we’re allowed a pause to reflect, not only on the merits of our female peers, but on those of our ancestors - on the women that began the revolution to get us where we are today. It's day that we can look forward to a future where perhaps a women’s day need no longer exist - because women and men will live equally - unburdened by ubiquitous differences that science and molecular biology determined we would have.
Change is a scary and mutilating concept - 1. because it is mostly irreversible; and 2. because life cataclysmically shifts.
Developing women’s rights became a cataclysmic, irreversible and inexorable change rang in by the twentieth century. And now here we are into the second decade of the twenty-first century and we are allowed the luxury to stand still and admire how far we’ve come.
Yet there are those, most recently perhaps in the European parliament that would still propose women as the inferior, more undeserving of the sexes. In order to belie my repulsion(and many of my peers) - I wish to very proudly announce the achievements of women in the past 2 months in possibly the most braggadocios way possible, while also gleefully regaling the tales of the women who got us here.
Katherine Johnson, pictured above, was the subject of one of the year's most celebrated movies Hidden Figures. Johnson was one of the 'human computers' used by NASA for Alan Shepard's record-breaking flight in 1961, for which she provided the trajectory analysis.
I love to see a young girl go out and grab the world by the lapels. Life’s a bitch. You’ve got to go out and kick ass.
— Maya Angelou
After the October Revolution of 1917 in Russia, Vladimir Lenin made Women's Day an official holiday in the Soviet Union. Women participated in wartime efforts, and a figure much celebrated in Russian World War II accomplishments is that of the female sniper Lyudmila Pavlichenko. She is credited with 309 kills and is perhaps one of the most renowned snipers in history. Wartime women have since become normalized because female participation in armies and warfare is a modern adaptation of the history we no longer have to abide by. While there still lingers a stigma attached to female soldiers, it is becoming normalized, especially in the past year with female legions forming to counter the patriarchal and consuming threat of ISIS.
Photo: Lean In
Marne Levine(pictured above) is Instagram's COO and is representative of a generation of women no longer accepting the demonstrable glass ceiling rule of thumb for women in tech. It has been a breakout few years for female executives in growing industries such as tech and design and Marne's achievements both at Instagram, and Facebook are a testament to the future of women in these industries that are finally realizing the benefit of female influence at the helm.
The demonstrations held by women across the world after the Inauguration in January were the largest ever by women in written history. Much has been said about the significance of the marches and whether or not they were merely tantamount to a fleeting anger with Trump's win and Hillary's loss.
This is not the case.
March 8th 2017 is not about the 2016 election and it is certainly not about protesting the man who currently holds the oval office. Rather, it is about where women can go from here - what we can do to ensure equality and how we can achieve it. So whether you're participating in 'A Day Without A Woman' strikes, abstaining from laundry or cleaning duties, calling your boss out on sexism in the workplace or simply wearing red and luxuriating in your feminine glow - enjoy the day. It's all yours.
The earth rotated around the sun once again bringing another birthday my way. The ageless reality I face is that the older I get the more I realize that if I were to meet my younger self today, I would absolutely not be able to identify with or recognize who she is! I would not want it any other way! I celebrate that fact every birthday. It suggests growth, it champions change, and it screams legacy and success!
Younger me would not have had the tenacity to endure 5 years of entrepreneurship. She would have gotten frustrated and lost focus. Older me gets it. Being a founder is about change and appreciating the nuances of running a business when it is perfect, as well as when it is not.
Younger me had a lot of excuses. She spent vast amounts of time waiting. She thought she had forever. Older me appreciates that my time, my best time, is right NOW. I am richest when I invest in what I can do today.
Younger me lived with fears unrecognized. The me of the moment challenges fear, not to be fearless but to fear LESS so that I can accomplish and DO more of what I love.
Younger me spent time in yesterday and tomorrow. Today I am in TODAY. This alone is an energy life hack that drives choice and purpose in ways that I never knew were possible. Every year we add to our birth brings us closer to the reality that the time we can impact is not what was or what will be, but what actually is. This small tweak drives your legacy and shifts your energy allowing you to pivot toward what you most want rather than away from what you do not. Instead of backing away…you are pivoting with purpose and moving ahead.
Younger me thought that she could only handle one thing or another. This OR that. Current me realizes the impact of replacing the word OR with the word AND then completing my thought. Today I resonate with the opportunities and possibilities this supports, something that a younger version of me simply could not, and would not, explore.
Younger me was resourceful because she needed to be. Older me is creative and curious because she wants to be.
Younger me thought she knew what she wanted in life. Older me knows what she is saying yes to in life and she gratefully celebrates that.
Younger me made mistakes. Older me makes mistakes that lead to discoveries and opportunities to renew and shift course. Failure does not exist because perfection does not exist.
Younger me imagined that she knew everything. Older me knows she is always learning something.
Younger me believed that you made choices that lasted forever. Seasoned me realizes that nothing lasts forever other than the relationship we have with ourselves. This is the one thing in life you can control. Everything else is subject to change and interpretation from a new perspective.
Younger me would not have had a meaningful and intelligent conversation with older me. She would not have seen the advantage. Yet, today I cherish the relationships I have collected, connections and conversations with people who matter, which incidentally includes accessing my own wisdom! I seek all of this out for the insight and human spirit it provides.
Yes, I was numerically and biologically younger yesterday. Yet today I am actually ageless. Today I am rich with opportunity and perspective that is steeped in what I CAN accomplish now.
Now is my new next!
Now is your new next as well! Today is a 24-hour window to invest in a 2020 vision. It is in today that we each have a unique-to-us chance to live our legacy, to engage in what inspires us, to seek the unknown and make it known. Today, we can challenge who we have been in favor of pivoting toward who we have not yet allowed ourselves to become.
It makes little difference where you are in the cycle of birthdays. What is important to remember is that you are not adding years, you are increasing experience. If every birthday is a marker of growth, then by extension, every day is a barometer of action steps, decisions, opportunities and ownership. Where will you challenge and own individual accomplishment? Where will you seek out the next step? What makes today different from yesterday?
So…in the 365 days ahead in the everyday of today what changes?
Don't wait. Do.
Don't quit. Pivot.
Don't juggle. Balance. Begin with your relationship to YOU!
Don't overthink. Think it over.
Grab your control back and choose.
Grab your success back and celebrate it.
Grab your life back and live it fully.
Set the tone for 2020 impact! No birthday needed!