– Joeli Brearley –
What would you ask for if you knew the answer was going to be yes?
This is the question I posed to the ladies in the Rainmakers Academy as we started the second module of the programme.
And it’s a question I return to today as the latest campaign for International Women’s Day, Choose to Challenge, rolls around. A day which has morphed into a month and which for many of us, particularly those in women-centred businesses like rainchq, typically commands the same love and attention as every other day: when you’re in the business of uplifting and championing other women, every day is a reason to celebrate.
But in the spirit of frank, honest debate, sometimes the celebration needs to be parked in favour of harsh reality. We are positive yes, but not at the expense of truth. And the truth is the last year for women all over the world has been brutal, sparking so many things we could and should be challenging about the endemic inequality, injustice and hardship women face, challenges which have been compounded tenfold (I haven’t run the numbers, but it’s not good) over the course of the last 12 months.
It’s the reason why UN Women Executive Director, Dr Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka commented that “Covid is not gender-neutral”, when women are so disproportionately affected on virtually ever possible measure from health to income.
It’s a picture that can leave you flattened and questioning what this day is actually for. I hear you.
But I counter that today is an opportunity for us to indulge in a little quiet reflection. To remind ourselves of what we can actually control.
I know I say this all the time, even to myself, but when last did you truly engage with it? Write it down? Build a plan to achieve it?
At this point, it’s less a nice bit of inspirational pep talk, and more a secret of survival.
Yes, there is a pay gap, but are we making sure we always ask for the pay rise we deserve? (Assuming we do deserve it – spoiler alert: if we’re under-performing or it’s day one of a new job, perhaps we don’t? Other views welcome!)
Yes, there is an investing gap but are we seeking out information to improve our financial knowledge and lean into the reality that when women do invest we actually do really, really well?
Are we supporting women-led businesses, sharing their content, becoming their customers, championing one another at work, buying books from new authors we follow on social media, gifting them to our friends and discussing them in our book clubs?
I include myself in this of course.
Because while there are all the gaps everywhere we turn, those micro contributions we make individually, make a hell of a dent in whatever we are trying to overcome collectively.
And yes, there are challenges we face, but are we taking the handbrake off our imagination, letting it fly and conceiving of our wildest dreams while we still have the chance?
It’s the least we owe ourselves, don’t you think?