The theme for International Women’s Day this year is #PressforProgress. We asked some of our favourite women what that means to them.
I am very excited to have a front row seat to the conversations that we find ourselves in the middle of right now. How incredible we are seeing this change in history for what women have fought for, for decades before us. And while these conversations are brilliant, Press For Progress to me is going beyond the conversation and committing to instilling change through action.
Leadership and Culture Actively ensure that the workplace environment and culture is gender relevant. Actively look at all aspects of the physical and non-physical workplace and ensure that at a minimum it is gender neutral, and where important that it is gender relevant. Are the workplace employment policies designed to accommodate the needs of the relevant gender (ie. leave entitlements, working hours, flexibility) is the physical work environment sufficient gender diverse (ie. desk / seating locations, project team composition).
Mentoring and Development All future leaders – regardless of gender – require planned development and strong mentoring. In the context of the development of future female leaders we need to ensure that they are mentored by both female and male mentors in a manner which is progressive, intellectual and considered. Additionally we need to challenge our traditional view of leadership (extroverted, loud, strong, opinionated, physical presence) and tune our ear to the increasingly the quiet movement (introverted, creative, thinking, considered, reflective).
Press For Progress means being more than just a conversation. We have this opportunity to make change, and having an opinion and voice has never been so important. Stand for something, or fall for anything.
Dr Anita Heiss
I take my lead and inspiration to press for progress from strong women throughout history. Barangaroo would not be told how to dress and attempted to stop a public flogging. Oodgeroo Noonuccal framed the ‘Aboriginal Charter of Rights’ and called for equality with dignity. Rosa Parks would not give up her seat for a white person in the ‘coloured section’ of the bus. Ruby Langford Ginibi told her editors not to ‘gubberise’ her text. In 2018 women need to be as strong as ever in insisting we know what is best for us, and the communities we belong to. We must not accept being told we are bold or aggressive for asserting our rights to be whomever, wherever and however we want to be. Pressing for progress means not accepting the status quo but shaking it right up and showing how it can be done better, by all of us.
Dame Quentin Bryce
I love International Women’s Day. I love the sisterhood, the solidarity that brings us together. A time for us to pause and honour the visionary, courageous women on whose shoulders we stand. As I share my thoughts with Business Chicks, I’m remembering my exhilarating times with you last year, across our country in Brisbane, Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide, Perth. Hundreds of women at each one. Delightful hospitality, energy, vivacity, generosity shining through. Networking? Yes. But at the heart of it all I observed personal support, friendship, genuine interest in each other. Empowering and reassuring. I loved the messages of encouragement, inspiration, feminism, humour that popped up everywhere – on tables, place cards, even in the loos.
As you gather to celebrate the achievements and contributions of women, to recharge batteries for the work we still have to do in our long struggle for gender equality, I hope that you will use your voices to press for progress on violence against women and their children. This insidious cruel gross abuse of human rights continues to grow in gravity and incidence around the world. In 2018 in our country it is squarely on our agenda. Thanks to the advocacy and support of brave victims and survivors, of skilled professionals and community activists. But every day, every week human tragedies occur. We read about the deaths, already, 8 this year, 47 last year. But there is no way of counting the number of women who suffer non-fatal injuries, often repeatedly that affect them for the rest of their lives. Could you imagine living in fear every day? We must never back away from our ambition of zero tolerance.
On IWD 2018 let us renew our determination to push harder, to push for progress for safety and security for every woman.
In the past six months we have been witness to a tide of change in the Western world with women, on mass, taking a stand and speaking out against gross violations committed against them. Last year, I too, attempted to have perpetrators held to account on a very personal matter. A story I have not yet shared. What I learnt in this process has shocked me deeply. As women, when focusing on the obstacles to our progress, we often look to misogyny and inequalities imposed by men, government, policies and procedures. But what of the restrictions women place on women? What of the judgements, criticisms and bullying between women that intimidate progress on a daily basis? Unity in the limelight will not achieve results if we cannot change the subtle and damaging defects in our intimate relationships as women in all manner of interactions.
We’re lucky at Business Chicks because every day is like International Women’s Day. We’re constantly helping women lead bigger loves, and doing our bit to make sure the structures move and shift to accommodate this. The one thing we know for sure is that it’s the many small actions that are going to help create a world where men and women are truly equal. For me, Press For Progress means action, action, action. No more talking. We have the wind in our sails from the energy around #MeToo and #TimesUp. Now more than even it’s time for us to demand and not stand by. As the mum of four daughters and a son, I want them to grow up in a world where there’s no question or difference in the opportunities they’re shown. That change has to happen in my community, but it also has to start in my home. If this past year has taught us anything, it’s that women are united. And we’re ready to work to catalyse real change, together.
Jules Allen and Dr Anita Heiss will be joining us at our International Women’s Day lunch in Melbourne on March 8.