Today, March 8th, is International Women’s Day, and this year’s theme is #PressforProgress. To me, this theme is a reminder that it’s not enough to sit around, let time pass and wait for things to change. International Women’s Day has been around since 1909, and we still have not achieved gender equality. The pay gap is real. Girls all over the world are still denied an education. And as the #MeToo movement has reminded us, far, far too many women are victims of sexual assault and harassment. We have been celebrating women on this day for over a century, and still there is so much more to do. That’s why action, not time, is the key to progress. Taking action is the only way to achieve equal opportunities for women.
Now, while you could join a political campaign or start a protest (which I fully support), this blog is all about taking small, realistic steps toward building a better planet. That’s why I think the best way to #PressforProgress is by standing up for yourself (if you are a woman) and other women in your daily life.
As girls, we are taught to be humble and kind. We are told to smile, to follow the rules, and to let others speak and act first. The old adage “boys will be boys” speaks volumes in terms of the difference between the way boys and girls are raised. Boys are permitted to be nothing more or less than exactly who they are, but girls are trained to look, act, speak, think, and feel a certain way. I think this is why we, as women, are so reluctant to stand up for ourselves. We’re taught to think about how we can serve others, and we so seldom put our own needs first. This has to change.
Speaking up, stating your opinions, and quite literally letting your voice be heard is a good place to start. So is encouraging other women to do the same. Phrases like “she wasn’t finished talking” and “listen to her idea” should part of everyone’s vocabulary.
Creating a culture that values women involves following, supporting, and engaging with powerful women (on the internet and in real life). These women are not the competition or the enemy. The real enemy is the version of ourselves who was taught to be quiet and stay inside the lines. By surrounding myself with strong, positive women, I can be strong too.