The theme for International Women’s Day in 2020 is #EachforEqual, it’s a simple, yet powerful concept which explains that an equal world is an enabled one.
The theme goes on to explore that individually; we’re all responsible for our own thoughts and actions – all day, every day. We can choose to challenge stereotypes, fight bias, broaden perceptions, improve situations and celebrate women’s achievements. Collectively, each one of us can help create a gender-equal world.
As I read these statements, I reflected on what they mean for me.
I grew up one of the eldest of three children; all girls, there were no sons in my family – even all our family pets ended up being female. While I didn’t realise it at the time, looking back, my father was my first experience of a male ally. He was fiercely proud of all his girls and brought up all of us to seek out our strengths, follow our passions and chase our dreams. On several occasions while growing up, I heard my father asked whether he ever regretted not having a son – what I recall most about those overheard conversations is his immediate and adamant response – “Nope, I could not be prouder of my girls – no man could ask for more!”
What this meant for me is that when I entered the world of work, I believed in each person being equal, and the ability for women to achieve great things. This was reinforced even more because my summer holiday job for a number of years was at a small law firm with two partners, one of whom was a woman, and in my first full-time job, the most senior leader I had a line of sight to was a woman.
While some of my perceptions surrounding how gender-balanced the world is has shifted slightly over the years, I have nonetheless found the courage to pursue my goals and ambitions, because of that experience of male ally-ship and seeing female role models that I could aspire to. Whether that be in my career, living on multiple continents or taking on challenges that have stretched me, it was that first experience of having someone who believed wholeheartedly in my ability to achieve whatever I set my mind to that helped shaped me.
My father is still one of my greatest male allies and is still fiercely proud of all his girls and our achievements. Along the way, I’ve also collected a number of other wonderful allies and mentors, both male and female, who have generously shared their wisdom, their insights and their support with me. I choose to believe that a gender-equal world can be achieved, but in order to get there, we need to understand the influential role we can all play and have to play. It’s only through collectively being allies for each other, can we create a gender-equal world.