10 March 2023

This is what International Women's Day
means to me.

Globally, we celebrated International Women’s Day 2023 on Wednesday, 8 March and I appreciate this may come across as tokenism, but I want to share the importance of International Women’s Day from a male point of view, mine. 

Before I delve into my perspective, International Women’s Day (IWD) has featured heavily in the media and across our socials, but how much do we really know about it, its origins, and what it stands for? 

Originating from early 20th-century labour movements in North America and Europe, the United Nation’s history timeline shows the first National Woman’s Day was observed by the United States on 28 February 1909, with a rich history of international activity to follow from several groups to grow and honour women’s rights and the female suffrage movement. IWD was officially recognised by the United Nations in 1977.

As acknowledged by UN Women Australia: International Women’s Day is an occasion to review how far women have come in their struggle for equality, peace and development. It is also an opportunity to unite, network and mobilise for meaningful change.

A day to celebrate the achievements of women and one to spotlight the inequity women face.

For me, IWD represents an opportunity to take a deep look at the imbalance of gender diversity in all facets of society. I note this should be a daily focus, an ongoing activity, but what IWD does, is it brings global attention to how uneven things continue to be, yes, progress is happening, yet, the world’s pendulum still swings favourably to males, especially at work. There is a growing discourse towards the annual morning teas, however, IWD is a tap on the shoulder to remind the decision-makers that they need and must do more.

Decision-makers must make a concerted effort to understand and appreciate that everyone is different. Each person’s circumstances are unique. We must do all we can to cater to people’s individual circumstances. Be the enablers and allocate resources and opportunities to assist those that need our help to reach an equal outcome.

The significance of this impactful day was reinforced at Hyatt Australia’s IWD 2023 event, where I had the honour of joining the esteemed panel alongside the incredible Carla Raynes and Debbie Lee to explore this year’s theme #EmbraceEquity. It was an inspiring occasion where we explored the important global discussion that ‘Equality is the goal, and equity is the means to get there’.

Listening to Carla and Debbie’s stories and what they have achieved and continue to achieve in their lives, personally and professionally, fighting through a concrete ceiling, not a glass ceiling, proves that pressure does make diamonds. If you believe in yourself and surround yourself with people that believe in you, you find the strength and the power to face adversity, fight the good fight, persevere, and create opportunities to make your dreams become realities.

These two amazing leaders have already made an enormous difference to so many women. They have paved the way and shown them that dreams do come true. They proved that women can achieve anything they put their minds to. That they are unlimited!! No one has the right to define what you can and can’t do – no limits. You can achieve anything in life as long as you put the work and effort in and truly believe.

Helen Keller, author, lecturer and political activist said: “Character cannot be developed in ease and quiet. Only through experience of trial and suffering can the soul be strengthened, ambition inspired, and success achieved.”

Trailblazers Making a Difference.

After working in the homelessness field for nearly two decades, in 2021 founder and CEO Carla Raynes established Bridge It. The charity works to address the big gap in youth accommodation by supporting 17 to 21-year-olds exiting out-of-home care. Through the ‘Cocoon’ support model, Bridge It has created a home in St Kilda, The Cocoon. Among the many services and support available, it is a haven to recover, learn life skills, receive education and employment access, wellness activities and peer mentoring groups. A second Cocoon will be launched this year with the future potential to make the model accessible in other countries.

Debbie Lee is the National Women’s and Girls Action Plan Lead for the AFL and in 2021, became the first-ever female inductee to the Australian Football Hall of Fame. Her credentials speak for themselves and apart from her playing excellence, she is one of the most respected and admired people in her industry, championing women’s AFL.

Supported by her father, Debbie’s football journey began early and she recounted of the time when women’s football was a constant battle. They were an afterthought and there was no support. There was no visibility in the sport, and she experienced firsthand the barriers that existed in creating equal sporting opportunities for women and girls.

Debbie’s motivation stemmed from her determination to make a difference for women in football. To break down the barriers and discrimination. She had a dream that AFLW would become televised and a fully-fledged competition, respected and admired by all. I am delighted to say that Debbie has achieved this dream.

Reflection and Action.

From the many key topics discussed, the panel shared their viewpoints on Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI). Most importantly they all highlighted that DEI are essential elements in creating the best workplace for everyone to feel a sense of belonging. No matter how big or small, our ideas and actions each bring the opportunity for change which in turn will create renewed hope and a brighter day for us all. Please consider what you can you do to foster DEI in your daily life and organisation.

On a final note, IWD also allowed me to reflect on the incredible female leaders we have involved in all of our Circles, my own incredible team of women at The CEO Circle and the amazing women in my personal life. Their stories, their struggles, their challenges and their successes, inspire me and so many others to reach greater heights in our personal, professional and organisational lives.

Equity is a means to get to equality. Are we succeeding? Yes, we are, however, we need to reach for Greater Success in our endeavours to bridge the equity gender gap.

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