Let’s all celebrate and salute the women who empower us…
March 8 is International Women’s Day – our chance to celebrate the many achievements and contributions women are making around the world. And there is lots to celebrate, especially in Canada. Each year, women are gaining more ground on the road to equality.
This year, the Canadian theme for International Women’s Day is: Women’s Empowerment Leads to Equality. What is empowerment? For me, it means supporting all the women in my life and helping them achieve their highest potential.
I try to do this every day at my office. Luckily, it’s fairly easy because I work with 30 smart, funny, energetic and hard working women (and two brave men who aren’t afraid of all that estrogen). I am thankful for how well we work together and support each other. Here’s how we strive to empower ourselves and each other. I hope it gives you some ideas to share in your life whether it’s your workplace, home or community.
“Anyone who stops learning is old, whether at twenty or eighty. Anyone who keeps learning stays young. The greatest thing in life is to keep your mind young.” Henry Ford, founder of Ford Motor Company
I’m a great believer in the value of education and lifelong learning. For me, learning is about staying curious about our world and finding new ways to make a positive impact. I think it’s only when we seek out new knowledge and information that we grow. Whether it’s taking night classes or reading as much as you can, there are many opportunities to advance your knowledge and learn new skills. Learning doesn’t just happen at work or school. Volunteering is another great experience to expand your knowledge and skills. You can learn so much from helping organizations and individuals when you give back.
“I was raised to believe that excellence is the best deterrent to racism or sexism. And that’s how I operate my life.” Oprah Winfrey
Seek out new challenges, strive for excellence
Just as we should keep learning, we should keep challenging ourselves. It’s only when we push ourselves out of our comfort zone that we can stretch our skills and confidence. Give 100% of your talent, intellect and hard work with every project or task you undertake. Make your contributions extraordinary so you are valued by your exceptional merit and give people the opportunity to see the real you.
“Figure out who you are separate from your family, and the man or woman you’re in a relationship with. Find who you are in this world and what you need to feel good alone. I think that’s the most important thing in life. Find a sense of self because with that, you can do anything else.” Angelina Jolie, actress
Find your voice and help others find theirs
It can take a long time to get into the rhythm of your life and figure out your voice. Author Todd Henry, in his book Louder than Words: Harness the Power of Your Authentic Voice offers various strategies, exercises and questions to help you figure out your passions and interests and how to express them.
Dr. Stephen Covey, celebrated author of the best-seller The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People and several other notable titles, defines voice as the overlapping of the four parts of our nature: mind, heart, body and spirit. To figure out your voice, ask yourself these four questions:
– What are you good at? That’s your mind.
– What do you love doing? That’s your heart.
– What need can you serve? That’s your body.
– What gives your life meaning and purpose? That’s your spirit.
They are not easy questions to answer and it requires alot of soul searching and lifelong learning. But if you remain true to your inner voice, you will discover what makes you unique.
“I alone cannot change the world, but I can cast a stone across the water to create many ripples.” Mother Teresa
Get involved in your community
I’m a great believer in giving back. We all share the responsibility of trying to make our world a better place. I think for anyone who is lucky enough to do what they love to do, they should share their skills and expertise to help those less fortunate.
There are so many causes, not only for women but everyone, that need volunteers, fundraisers and supporters. What are the issues and causes that resonate with you? Target a few and research organizations or charities that might benefit from your skills and passion. I can tell you based on my own experience supporting Artists for Peace and Justice that the experience has been life changing for me. I firmly believe that to feel true joy, it can only happen when you help others. When you give of yourself to try and make other people’s lives better and impart a sense of happiness, then you will feel real joy in return.
“If a country doesn’t recognize minority rights and human rights, including women’s rights, you will not have the kind of stability and prosperity that is possible.” Hillary Clinton, politician
Stand up against injustice
We owe a great deal to the brave women who came before us and weren’t afraid to stand up for their rights: rights that we now, at times take for granted. Canadian suffragettes like Nellie McClung and others (known as The Famous Five) fought hard so women could vote, a federal right granted less than 100 years ago. There are countless other activists over the years who have campaigned tirelessly to advance women’s rights and opportunities in education, healthcare, employment, politics and other fields.
As the women before us did, if you see injustice or an abuse of rights in your community, stand up and make your voice heard. Have the courage to follow your heart and stand up for your values and support the rights of others.
“You may encounter many defeats, but you must not be defeated. In fact, it may be necessary to encounter the defeats, so you can know who you are, what you can rise from, how you can still come out of it.” Maya Angelou, poet
Be open to feedback and learning opportunities
There are two things I know to be true. None of us have all the answers and we should strive to continually improve how we do things and be the best we can be. For me, this means seeking the insight and feedback of others and being open to new learnings and approaches. Surround yourself with good, smart people whose insights you value and trust. And steer yourself from thinking that the way you’ve always done things is the best way. Life should be about continual learning and self-improvement.
“We need to reshape our own perception of how we view ourselves. We have to step up as women and take the lead.” Beyonce, singer and actress
Don’t underestimate your power or strength
Sometimes I think it’s all to easy to think that we’re not as smart, creative or talented as everyone around us. That negative self-talk can be debilitating. Don’t give in to it. Each one of us has unique strengths and talents and has more of an impact on the people around us than we probably realize. Celebrate your strengths and do the same for the women around you.
Salute the women who inspire and empower you!
While it’s great to have one day when we celebrate women and how far we’ve come, every day we should support each other and celebrate all the special women (and men) in our lives who empower us to be our best. This International Womens Day tag the women who inspire you using the hashtag #YouAreEmpowerment or tweet me @NatashaNKPR or comment below. Happy International Women’s Day everyone!
Image courtesy of International Women’s Day.