I have been lucky enough to be brought up believing that my gender has no bearing on how I am treated in life and the future I hold.
I’ve never thought, “I can’t do that because I’m a girl”, or “He’ll be better at that than me…”
I have a maternal grandmother who is as wilful as she is loving, and who has raised four headstrong daughters of her own (alongside three equally headstrong sons). Strong women run in the family.
Likewise, my favourite – and most inspiring teachers – have all been women; and as I enter the work force, my managers and directors are women who are juggling successful careers with motherhood and – quite frankly – not looking too daunted by the task.
So on International Women’s Day 2016, I wanted to celebrate women and share some of the best pieces of advice that I’ve been given to date:
“There is no such thing as a right or wrong decision - they are merely decisions.” ~ My line manager suggested that I shouldn’t place so much weight and meaning on a decision. Because, I will never know how the other path would have turned out. Every decision has different outcomes with different positives and negatives.
“Give all of yourself or nothing at all.” ~ I attended a talk with Baroness Tessa Jowell recently who said that you have to give yourself entirely to something and never fear failure. If you give your all to something, you can never be embarrassed by the outcome because you were true to yourself.
‘Shy bairns get nowt’ ~ A Geordie saying, meaning if you don’t ask you don’t get.
It is quite a scary mind set and can lead to failure or possible embarrassment, but if you don’t try you will never know.
“Surround yourself with women who have different interests and backgrounds. The most unlikely women can end up being your best friends.” ~ My mum explained that when you have children you meet and end up becoming best friends with people you would probably never have considered. So if you can surround yourself with women with different interests and backgrounds, from an earlier age… think of all the things that you could learn from them…. And all the fun you could be having!
“Moisturise your neck and always always wear sun cream.” ~ Given by my sister (most probably passed down by my mum!)
Now I know that I am very lucky to believe that my gender isn’t my destiny, and quite frankly maybe I’m being stupid to believe it isn’t – especially when this year’s International Women’s Campaign theme is about #PledgeForParity.
Parity is ‘the state or condition of being equal, especially as regards status or pay.’
The difference in pay between men and women meant that in 2015 women essentially worked for FREE from November 9th UNTIL the rest of the year! That’s 52 days for free – a tenth of the year! The World Economic Forum predicted in 2015 that it would take until 2133 to achieve global gender parity. ** That’s 117 years until women are regarded and paid the same as their male counterpart!!!**
So even though I don’t feel that being a woman limits me– in reality it does. And many women from different generations, cultures, and societies are faced with this same reality every day.
So don’t wait another century for gender equality, pledge today! And while your at it, ask a fellow female for some advice - you won’t regret it!
Words ~ Karis O’Leary-Smith