Are things happening around you that give you reason to pause? Do world events or things closer to home alarm or surprise you? Are they chance happenings or symptomatic of a world in dire need of change? Unfortunately humanity with the assistance of popular media tends to gravitate towards the negative despite marked evidence that the majority of the world’s population would prefer to focus on positives. Apparently good news may not be convenient for timelines and deadlines. I’m positive that the 15,000 women garment workers, including many immigrants, who marched through New York City’s Lower East Side on March 8, 1908 to rally at Union Square to demand economic and political rights were not warmly embraced by the factory owners or business leaders of their time. However, their actions initiated a change that had global impacts. They are also the reason that International Women’s Day has been is celebrated on March 8 for over 100 years and is recognized in over 88 countries and on every continent . International Women’s Day highlights the social, political and economic achievements of women while focusing world attention on areas still needing attention and action.
Although positive gains have taken place for women, the scale still lacks balance. This is not only evident in Board and Council rooms but during informal conversations. Despite the positive impact that women have both locally and globally, many have not gotten past the visible and invisible obstacles that inhibit their ability to step into strong leadership roles. One of the first things to overcome is how they see themselves. An identity shift, which is more than learning new skills and shifting styles, needs to occur. Women need to see themselves as leaders and develop a sense of purpose that does not allow them to sit back and be quiet about the inequities that prevail minimizing the potential of everyone – both male and female, adult and child.
To move past this hurdle, Edmund Lee recommends that we should: “Surround yourself with the dreamers and doers, the believers and thinkers, but most of all, surround yourself with those who see the greatness within you, even when you don’t see it yourself.”
Not realizing our potential or living our dream is both disheartening and crippling not only for us individually but also as a society. How then do we approach the future? Is it with anticipation of great possibilities or a settling with the status quo? Making a choice to change involves taking a risk; knowing that without taking that risk things are likely never to change.
Inspiring Change is the theme for International Women’s Day 2014. We all have the power to choose and the power to change. Gender, age, race, spirituality or any of the multiple of other things that differentiate us should not stop anyone from using that power.
What change(s) are necessary to enable you to move further ahead?
Change brings a choice. What do you choose?
Article originally published in The Newsy Neighbour March 2014 p 14