If there’s one occasion that makes my blood boil, it’s International Women’s Day.
I write these words on International Women’s Day 2022, a day that has been marked every year since 1911 . For 111 years, longer than my lifetime and my mother’s lifetime, and two thirds of my grandmother’s lifetime.
Why are we still talking about this? Why is it that we seem to have reached a plateau?
I channel my frustration into what I do here, my mentorships, my community workshops and what I write on social media. One thing I’ve learned is that if you have an energy burning within you, it’s best channelled into doing something helpful. At least I hope what I do is helpful in some small way.
Since I turned my back on corporate consulting and I embarked on this venture five years ago I’ve become increasingly of the view that we women are giving more of our energy to fighting the status quo than we are to building ourselves. Don’t get me wrong, the status quo is not fair, it needs to change.
We also need to change, to take our power back, to build ourselves, to build others, to build kinder fairer alternatives to the status quo.
Every woman I’ve encountered and everything I’ve done in this space has reinforced my sincere belief that the best way to make our world a better place is for women to reclaim their inner power and use it well.
That’s the unedited bit of fire in the belly. Below is the smoother piece I published via my social media channels, including on LinkedIn today.
The picture above is of my mother with my father circa 1955. Whilst I mark International Women’s Day to honour her and the other women upon whose shoulders I stand, and in whose footsteps I tread – I do not celebrate. I’d rather there was no need for us to continue to have International Women’s Day or to discuss gender in this way.
Whilst I stand in gratitude for my good fortune, I know it is an accident of birth; a result of to whom I was born, where I grew up, and the times I was born into. I’ve been lucky. Particularly in the female role models I’ve had and the male champions who pushed me towards opportunities I didn’t perceive then stood behind me when the going got tough. Still, I do not celebrate. How can I?
The ages-old cycle of progress and regress continues.
We continue to discuss, to debate, to publish statistics, and to quibble.
At times seeming to miss the underlying principle behind this day, and this movement.
What is it the principle I believe we strive for?
All humans are equally human.
Whilst it continues to be the case that women’s rights are contested in way that doesn’t occur for other humans who are identified as men, we do not have that equality.
During this pandemic our society has been sustained by the care economy, health care workers, aged care workers, childcare workers, and other carers – the vast majority of whom are female. Yet government policy responses to the pandemic have failed women, upon whom they’ve had a disproportionately negative effect. The tsunami of homelessness and poverty amongst women has continued to swell.
For women like me who enjoy the relative privilege of education and a professional career, there are also impediments.
Whilst there have been some improvements, the double standards continue. Double standards that see women negatively judged and penalised for behaviours that other humans are rewarded for. On the other hand, women are judged lesser by virtue of their inherent nature and coached to fix themselves, only to be told they lack confidence.
When I think of what International Women’s Day represents to me, I do not conceive a zero-sum game where there are winners and losers. For me the pursuit of gender equity is not about fighting with or against anyone. If that is what we do, then we all lose.
For me, it’s about fairness.
When there is fairness for women, we all benefit.
I know it from my own experience.
After the marriage bar was lifted in 1966 and my mother was able to return to work, my entire family benefited. My father was relieved of the burden arising from being the sole provider for his family. My parents were able to provide better for their four children in terms of healthcare and education. In turn, we were all lifted and each of us has gone on to lift others.
When we have fairness, when all humans are treated as equally human in both word and deed, we lift each other.
Written in honour of the two fine people pictured above. Jacqui
Be Successful, Be Yourself
Hi, I’m Jacqui Alder. I’m here because I’m over women being told what and how they should be.
You don’t need to be fixed, there’s nothing wrong with you.
I learned this the hard way and now I know better. I now know that the path to making it easier to stay true to yourself begins and ends with you. This is why I’ve created the beautiful books you’ll find here.
Each book is designed to help you hear yourself so you can put your energy into living a life guided by your values rather than worrying whether you’re doing the right thing by everyone else.
If you want to meet me in person or virtually, feel free to contact me. I also invite you to take a look my latest book, Being You, download the guided values exercise from my self coaching journal, or take a peek at my slightly cheeky about me page.