Reflecting on International Women’s Day: A Personal Journey Towards Equality

As I embark on my 15th year as a business owner, and celebrate my 43rd year as a woman, I find myself pausing to reflect on the profound changes that have unfolded over this time span.  Fifteen years ago, female business leaders were a rare sight, and the prevailing narrative dictated that success meant adopting stereotypically male traits.  Yet, as I navigated this landscape, I realized that this approach failed to honour the unique leadership qualities inherent in women.

The notion of "having it all" echoed through our lives, yet the reality often left us feeling exhausted and overwhelmed.  Balancing the demands of climbing the corporate ladder while nurturing our personal lives left many of us grappling with feelings of failure.  The elusive concept of work-life balance became a buzzword, still shrouded in ambiguity today. However, with the advent of hybrid workplaces and evolving gender roles within our homes, there is hope that clarity will emerge.

My most crucial piece of advice stems from personal experience: defining what balance means for oneself is paramount.  Every journey is unique, and finding clarity amidst the cacophony of expectations is essential to forging a fulfilling path forward.  Alongside this journey, I've encountered countless remarkable women who have fearlessly carved out their space in the world.  Whether choosing to prioritize family, career, entrepreneurship, or adventure, their resilience inspires me.

However, amidst this celebration of female empowerment, I cannot overlook the lingering shadow of women tearing down women.  I recall the divisive narratives that pitted working mothers against stay-at-home mothers, perpetuating harmful stereotypes and sowing unnecessary discord.  True progress lies in embracing solidarity and uplifting each other, irrespective of our choices.

Moreover, as we champion gender equality, we must acknowledge the vital role men play in this narrative.  Gender norms have confined men to rigid roles of providers and protectors, leaving little room for nurturing.  Yet, as our society evolves, men too deserve the freedom to embrace diverse expressions of masculinity and contribute to the pursuit of equality.

Yet, amidst our strides towards progress, I cannot ignore the stark reality of pervasive violence against women. As gender roles blur, some individuals perceive this shift as a threat, manifesting in insidious behaviours and attempts to curtail women's autonomy.  To those grappling with such internal biases, I implore reflection and seek support. Gender equality is not a battle waged alone but a collective endeavour that demands introspection and action.

As we commemorate International Women’s Day, I am filled with both gratitude for how far we've come and a renewed commitment to the journey ahead.  Our pursuit of equality is not solitary but communal, requiring collective effort to sculpt a more inclusive and equitable society.  Together, let us challenge biases, uplift one another, and pave the way towards a brighter future for all.