The #metoo movement has empowered women around the world to speak up, stand up and be counted and that was very evident in all the International Women’s Day events held last week.
I actually attended three events to celebrate the day, and at each, there was a consistent message – be strong.
At the Empire Club event, the first speaker was Celina Caesar-Chavannes, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of International Development and a relatively new MP representing Whitby. As a tall woman of colour, she was formidable as she spoke about standing up for what you believe in. Taking risks shows courage and is the first step towards leadership. The panel that followed focused on the value of mentorship and sponsorship within the workplace.
In Cambridge, in front of a younger audience, the speakers focused on doing what is best for you. TV hosts Vanessa and Melissa shared the value of working together and how collaboration makes you stronger and Tahani Aburaneh talked about her journey as a refugee from Jordan to becoming a successful real estate developer.
However, it was engineer Cat Coode’s message that stuck with me. She was in the final stages of having an app developed when the developer disappeared. She was left with choices – pay out more money to salvage the project or walk away.
On reflection, she decided this wasn’t what she wanted to do, and she let it go. She encouraged the audience to always check in with their intuition and trust it. Just because you are on a path, doesn’t mean you have to stay on it, if it isn’t taking you where you want to go.
But I am saving the best for last. The final event on March 8, had Juno award winner and singer Susan Aglukark as the keynote. Now Susan is a friend, so I have heard her story before, but I never tire of hearing her talk about her rapid success in the music industry or hearing her beautiful voice. Her key message was that you can heal. You can move on. We are all stronger than we think. It was the ending, however, that resonated most with me.
There were 400 people at this event – mainly women and a few brave men. She got us all up on our feet to participate in a dance. Holding hands, we went around in circles to the beat of the music and Susan’s singing. I was between a woman wearing a hijab and another wearing a beautiful sari. Two women, I have never met before.
Now that, that is the true meaning of International Women’s Day – together, regardless of our race, colour or sexual orientation, as women we are stronger.
Company of Women
I have had an eclectic career from running non-profit organizations and being editor of a national magazine, to working for government on women’s issues. In 2003 I launched Company of Women, an organization that supports women in business. A prolific blogger, I also write for the Huffington Post, and several other online publications. I am the author of five books on women and entrepreneurship, and co-author of Good Enough. Embrace who you are. Unleash your brilliance. which is available on amazon.ca In June, 2016 I launched Full Circle Publishing offering one-stop services to get your words out into the world.