International Women’s Day 2015

This is thhttp://www.internationalwomensday.come first year, in a very long time, that I have not attended any International Women’s Day (IWD) events as none, as far as I am aware, are being held where I currently live. My contribution this year to IWD has been to include the day as part of my English language lessons, providing a reading piece, vocabulary list and encouraging discussion as it falls in line with the our ESL topics.

The class discussions, where the majority of students have been women in their early to mid-twenties, have been interesting and thought provoking because, although some had heard of IWD, none of them were aware of the history or knew much about why this day is so significant.

In 1910 women from a number of different countries were attending a conference on Copenhagen, Denmark at which Carla Zetkin, a German delegate, made the suggestion that an annual day should be set to mark the struggle for women’s rights. Obviously other attendees thought this was a great idea and so IWD was born.

Why the 8th March? Well, this was the day of the very first protest March was held in New York in 1857 to demonstrate against the horrific conditions faced by those women who worked in the garment and textile industry.

Over the ensuing years IWD has grown to become a movement that has highlighted so many concerns that affect women. Issues have included gender equality, women’s health issues, violence against women, disarmament and education to name but a few. Check our further details here on the UN page for 2015 as there’s some great reading there.

I’ve been fortunate to attend a number of IWD events ranging from breakfasts, lunches, dinners and public marches. I’ve always learnt something each time I listened to a speaker at the each of the events and been grateful for the wisdom they have shared. A collaboration of women is a most powerful thing.

Clearly the key to improving the world in which we live comes down to education, not just for women but for everyone, because it is only through education (both formal and informal) that we can begin to understand that there is more than just our own little world. Through education the world is opened up, we become aware of alternate ways of living and thinking. We learn about collaboration, we learn about respect and we learn about those who have gone before us, often making sacrifices, to pave the way for future generations.

We should never underestimate the power of the individual to make a difference and women joining together are indeed a force to be reckoned with.

Michelle

A PERSONAL PERSPECTIVE ON WINNING

What is the definition of winning? The dictionary says – Successful, triumphant, victorious, unbeatable – well yes, I suppose a lot of that description does fit. I have so far been successful in my fight against breast cancer, successful in my career and fortunate enough to have won several accolades.

But to me, what is more important than the winning is the process.

Winning is but a fleeting moment of victory – it’s what you do before and, most importantly, after that counts. To me, it is the journey that you take to achieve that winning status and then what happens after the spotlights are off, the media packed up and gone home.

For me what remains are not the trophies and awards that I can hang on a wall rather it is the memories and pride in the individuals and businesses that I have had the pleasure of mentoring and working with. They may have all approached me initially because I had a profile as a result of my accolades but it has been a genuinely pleasurable experience to be the ghost in the background. The ghost that has helped their lights to shine brightly – this is what I call a winning relationship.

Winning provides an opportunity and can, if managed correctly, open doors that were previously closed. In my book winning is about sharing, teamwork and working to create a better society for the generations that follow us.

Winners are influencers and with influence comes a great responsibility. I’ll be talking more about influence later this week at the Australian Women’s Leadership Symposium.

Michelle