In the runup to March 8, 2021, International Women’s Day, many men and women were likely wondering: “Is this really necessary?” “Is there a point?” or even “Can I just skip it?”
To put things in perspective…Did you know that:
In most developed countries, approximately 100 years ago women were not allowed to vote (This was around the time that our grandmas were growing up). In Greece, women got the right to vote in 1952 (Grandma was 26). And in Switzerland, in 1971 (That’s just 15 years before I was born).
That means that in Greece, up until when my Yiayia turned 25, herself, her mum, her sisters and her girlfriends would stay at home or hang out on election day, while the men would exercise the greatest right that democracy offers us, which is the right to vote. The ladies would just sit and watch quietly while 50% of the population (or less!) made decisions about the lives of 100% of the population.
From a young age, while volunteering in political campaigns, I became aware and disappointed from finding out how the political systems, governments and parliaments prioritize people’s needs: based on their voting power (typically).
Additionally, people naturally have the tendency to believe that their challenges/issues/problems are universal challenges/issues/problems.
Since women weren’t allowed to vote, obviously they didn’t have any seats in parliaments, governments, or influential executive positions.
So, women’s needs, up until around 100 years ago and in some countries 60 years ago, were not in the center of most influential round-tables and strategies, whether social, political or economic. Not saying that they were completely disregarded, but their priorities definitely came second. And we are not even touching upon the subject of what was and still is happening in less developed countries.
I read in an article recently that women started “gaining credibility” during and after WWI when, due to the circumstances (men going to war), they “proved” for the first time that they were “capable” of working, providing healthcare services, handling greater responsibilities, and managing all sorts of demanding tasks. (Say what?!)
Fast forward to today: I, born in 1986, was raised by parents that told me and gave me everything that I needed to go to school, study and/or work in five different countries, and become “whatever I dreamed of becoming.” The only condition: to be the best.
But the systems around me were/are not as modern and updated as my upbringing, my education, my knowledge, my mindset (or my iPhone). And we are not talking only about my personal upbringing, but that of my future and past generations too.
And this increasing knowledge, consciousness, exposure and awareness explains a lot of stuff that we are currently watching and experiencing first-hand: systems, structures, attitudes and hierarchies falling apart. Either faster or slower. Seems like Earth is on the same page as well.
There are some foundational issues coming to the surface due to today’s circumstances. Whether it is due to Covid and lockdowns, health, global remote work, the #MeToo movement, political turbulence, stress, fear, hope, or the general empowerment or disempowerment of people, at this point I think that we can all agree that a lot of stuff that is no longer working has come to the surface and that there is no going back.
So if there is no “going back,” and of course there is never an option of “standing still,” at least not for long, there is only “moving forward.” And to make “moving forward” better than whatever we are leaving behind, a major shift needs to take place, for all of us, men and women. And that is to take radical responsibility.
When we take radical responsibility, we take back our power. And only from that place can we create a better future. Because without taking ownership, the stuff that we will now be creating will be based on the same culture, mindset and attitudes of the past: reactivity, selfishness, scarcity, fear, greed, blaming, entitlement, hate, aggression, anger. And of course, sooner or later, the result will be the same, no matter whose side you were initially on.
Now is the time to envision and redesign the world that you want to be living in. And focus on what you want to build, not on what you want to break down. One step at a time. You are a potential leader no matter how big your influence is today.
Whether you are managing a home, a family, five people or 500, you have the same power and potential to change the world as anyone else. Today, more than ever in history. The only difference between you and others is the starting point. And your determination is power that will determine the speed at which things will unfold on your way to success.
Have a clear, bigger-than-you, vision. Have a pure intention that speaks to your heart. Be mindful of your intention (Why do want to lead? Does it feel like an expansion or a detraction?).
Make the decision that you are a change agent. Most importantly, start your change from yourself. Become the leader of your mind, body, feelings and life.
Take massive action, now. Step up and take radical responsibility. You don’t need anyone or anything else. No matter you sex or your circumstances, you have everything you need to succeed, within you. As you already know.
Back to IWD: I strongly believe that International Women’s Day is essential. And it is because it’s another great opportunity for all of us to look in the mirror, with courage, take responsibility for all the good and the bad, and make the decision to press the reset button on everything that isn’t working today.
And to then focus on what we want to create from now on. Starting with us. Leading by example. And the rest will follow. So much faster than you think.
* Maira Folia is co-founder of ResetPlatform.com.