“Here’s to strong women"
“Here’s to strong wo/men.
May we know them. May we be them. May we raise them.”
Part 3: May we raise them.
There’s a lovely duality to this phrase:
May we raise them- may we nurture and bring up our women strong.
And equally, may we raise them- may we celebrate strong women. Hold them up high.
Hear them. Acknowledge and reward them.
So how do we nurture and raise strong women?
To fill our daughters’ minds with images and stories of strong inspirational women, we don’t need to look far. TED talks – Isabel Allande, Reshma Saujani; Movies – Hidden Figures, Brave, The Help; Books – Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls, Lean In by Sheryl Sandberg; Timbuktu Labs’ E-Book – How To Raise Confident Girls; You tube clips - Michelle Obama, the gracious, courageous Maya Angelou.
We can spark a little productive risk-taking with stories and advice from women like firefighter, paraglider and all-round adventurer Caroline Paul.
(See below for links)
These strong women share their unique perspectives. They have experienced risk and failure. They encourage debate and dialogue. They stand up for themselves and what they believe in.
They articulate their hopes and dreams. They advocate for gender challenging roles. They are aspirational and inspirational role models.
The expression “leave the ladder down” is such a great phrase, encouraging women who have broken through the glass ceiling to be active supporters, mentors and promoters for their female counterparts.
Clementine Ford asserts in “Fight Like A Girl”, that there is a common myth in society that ‘women are each other’s worst enemies’. That this myth has been perpetuated to keep women divided, to align them with men at the expense of other women. However, in order to advance, we must trust each other, partner up and accept and give help.
Likewise, in “Women Leading”, Christine Nixon and Amanda Sinclair advocate for sharing trusting relationships with other women.
Once upon a time it may have been an act of self-preservation to obstruct other women on their way up the ladder. In the days of quotas when only one woman was ‘allocated’ to a particular level of the hierarchy, competition would be threatening. There is now a new wave of support, awareness, expectation and promotion. An impetus to raise our strong women and celebrate them. To actively encourage those breaking through. What we praise and recognise is strengthened and repeated. We rise by lifting others.
The fabulous Frances McDormand literally raised strong women at this years’ Oscars, by inviting all female nominees to stand during her acceptance speech.
So, how do those of us not world famous and accepting our Oscar raise strong women?
The following is a small selection taken directly from Christine Nixon and Amanda Sinclair’s excellent “Women Leading”. See their book for the full list.
What men can do:
Stop using your power to undermine, harm, manipulate, dominate, bully and reinforce gender norms and sexism
Value women’s perspectives in business
Think about the bias to ‘think manager, think male’, and stop appointing people who look like you
Strategies to change systems:
Pay women the same as men for the same jobs
Reveal unconscious bias and train others to see how it reduces equal opportunity
Use external / independent people in selection processes and where possible ‘blind’ panels, where the gender of the applicant is removed or not known
Actions women can undertake:
Put up your hand, take your seat at the table, find your voice
Stop being afraid
Give a hand up to other women
The International Women’s Day website (see below) also contains an abundance of ideas, actions and initiatives to progress raising women.
We all have a part to play in raising strong women, and every action counts.
I'd love you to contribute your recommendations for great links, role models and ideas.
With thanks to all the strong women who continually inspire.
Thank you for your time
Feel free to share
FUSE Strategy - Light it up!
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Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls
Isabel Allende: (contains mature content)
Maya Angelou :
International Women’s Day
Christine Nixon and Amanda Sinclair “Women Leading” 2017 Melbourne University Press.