Recently I ran an event with the AFP Women’s Network for International Women’s Day. International Women’s Day has been running since 1908 and celebrates the accomplishments of women’s equality around the world.
At the event we had 3 guest speakers, two of whom had done a lot of work in developing, fragile and conflict stricken countries where the role of women is vital to the growth of the country (although not always realised by the men within the country or the aid people).
Each of these speakers told their stories, which were inspiring. We then had each woman attending share her story with two other women (or man – two men attended which was fantastic!) in the room – a powerful experience for all.
Some of the themes that emerged were that we need to back ourselves, and step up and speak up, respect is earned through delivering results, we don’t need to act like a man – we need to be ourselves, synchronicities happen that create new opportunities, careers are more like a jungle gym than a ladder, sometimes other women are the least supportive of women, mentoring is really important to growth, accept challenges and then figure it out (men do!) and feel the feel and do it anyway (reminds me of the name of Susan Jeffers book!).
Stories are powerful, so I encourage you to set up a time with a friend or colleague and share your stories over a cuppa. Alternatively, if you have a team, take each person for a coffee separately and ask them their story. You will find out what is really important to that person and it changes the way we interact. When people feel truly heard they feel valued and the nature of the relationship deepens.
On the back of this I have just finished reading Malala, the autobiography of Malala Yousafzai, the young woman who stood up for education against the Taliban and was shot. A truly delightful and inspiring book that is my book review this month.