IWD 2023: Consider the impact you can make for women
08 March, 2023
This is one of two blog posts written for International Women's Day (IWD) 2023. The other post, by Dr Ananta Dave, is titled Embracing equity, promoting excellence. Please see our IWD page for more content including a podcast and video interview.
International Women’s Day is a day to celebrate, honour and remind ourselves of the journey that womankind has been on – and especially how far we need to go still.
Take a moment to remember the women, who did not have a choice, who still cared, nurtured, and inspired us to live a life they couldn’t, the ones who stood up against adversity and asked for basic rights and sacrificed so much for future generations.
This theme is still very alive in today's world, where inequity and inequalities remain for women across the world and in some countries have even become worse. Most of these start at a young age, and no girl deserves to be disadvantaged for the reason they are a girl. I still see this girl in many adults today, the girl who had no voice, no rights, and no choice. The difference many of them made was to ensure that women of later years did not have the same life. We are indebted to these women for all that they have been through. I will always live with the awareness that my life is better than many women before my time. I owe it to all of them to be the best I can be, no matter what.
Most of the NHS workforce are women, yet, even today I hear discussions on how women are not heard at meetings, are not asked to apply for more senior posts, are at the receiving end of behaviours such as exclusion, and are often spoken to quite inappropriately about their appearance, looks, what they wear, their size and so on.
These discussions where women talk about these matters often happen in women-only spaces, where they feel safe, validated, whole, and heard. If you know the knowing look in someone’s eyes when you describe the pain you have been through and realise they had it too, and this happens a lot, it brings sadness and bonding that cannot be described. It also brings a special strength, based on love and pain, and this helps women to be determined and achieve, often beyond imagination. Women of minority ethnic communities have even bigger obstacles to overcome.
Women taking up leadership positions is good for the NHS and helps make it a better place. I have experienced both, personally and with colleagues and friends, how vulnerabilities can truly be our strength, individually and collectively. A world where we can reduce and eradicate vulnerabilities would be even better.
I ask women to both help and believe in themselves and other women more, and actively work collectively with allies to move towards us having a better world. There are many positive stories where people have inspired and supported women, helping them believe in themselves and realise their potential when they themselves could not. I am myself one of those people who were lucky to have these allies and today I proudly am one myself.
We need many many more of these people. It could be you.
The theme for 2023 is embracing equity, which is all about ensuring that the starting point for women is a long way behind that of men, based on historical and social disadvantages. We need to understand that equality has no meaning without us also tackling inequity.
If you are reading this then I ask you to consider the impact you can make for women, through words, deeds, or actions, no matter how big or small. Together what we can change is illimitable, and we will change the course of future generations, and continue the journey that was started by many before us.