Today is International Women’s Day 2017 with this years theme being Be Bold For Change, with the idea behind that we all help forge a better working world – a more gender inclusive world.
The theme got me thinking about change, often change takes time, it can be messy and as human beings are creatures of habit many don’t like change. But Change is vital to growth, progress and development, sometimes it takes courage to take that step. It can also take courage to be the first to initiate change. You could be the ripple to do create positive change, imagine if Rosa Parks had got up rather than refuse to stand up on the bus in 1955. Her act of defiance became an important symbol of change in the civil rights movement in the 50s.
Other trail blazing women include Katherine Switzer the first women to run the Boston Marathon in 1967, even when the race director tried to remove her she refused and it was also her fellow male runners that protected her so she could keep running. A great example of how men can create positive change for gender equality. Following Katherine’s courage to run that marathon, women began to be allowed to run in Boston Marathon and across the world women participate in marathons though sadly in some countries women can still experience barriers to taking part in sport.
Imagine if the Suffragettes hadn't been bold and brave enough to fight for the right to vote, where would the world be now! These three examples are just a few of so many bold, brave, trailblazing women that were brave and bold, in doing so they brought change to the world, change for women, more equality and more freedom. Without these women in the past we would not got to where we are today. However there is still much work to be done, examples of the work that needs to be done to create change around issues are that 1 in 3 women will experience violence in their lifetime, women still earn less than men, women directors are not in equal numbers to men these are just a few examples of inequality that still exist. It takes all of us to be brave and bold, women supporting women and men supporting women to create change.
I think of my life and actually how at times life has required me to be brave for myself and for others, it is from challenges such as this that I have grown the most and learnt the most. It is only from being able to step out and step up can we make an impact. In my role working with women to develop peace building skills we take women out of their comfort zone in a safe way but in doing so we see women grow in confidence and feeling more able to go back to their communities to create positive change and impact.
One of my all-time favourite quotes that always inspires me is Mathma Ghandi “Be the Change you wish to see” if we all took the time act to create be the change around gender equality by speaking up, challenging gender equality, not accepting the glass ceiling we see in front of us. If we could all be that change we wanted to see in the world, imagine the difference that could be.
So today on International Womens Day I call out to women and men if you see gender inequality or discrimination be brave, be the one to create that ripple of change, be the change you wish to see!
Photograph from Leeds City Council Celebrating Leeds Event 2017 - Made in Leeds TV