I must tell you – I love being a woman!  And I have long felt blessed to have been born in a time when women have so many opportunities and choices that even my own mother never had.  Yet of all the barriers women still face, one of the biggest is a lack of self-confidence and belief in our own worth.

Yes, we are women. Hear us roar. Some days. But there’s are plenty of others we women spend second guessing our decisions, questioning our value, beating ourselves up, talking ourselves down and apologising for our opinion.

We work hard to do a great job, to keep all the plates spinning and scale the high bars we often set for ourselves. Yet still, we continually feel like we’re falling short on some measure; that we’re just not ‘enough’ in some way. Not…

Accomplished enough.

Organised enough.

Strong enough.

Disciplined enough.

Assertive enough.

Strategic enough.

Smart enough.

That little voice in our heads just doesn’t let up, continually critiquing what we haven’t yet done or didn’t do… not ‘well enough’ anyway. Do your own survey and you’ll find that women tend to doubt themselves too much and back themselves too little.  It’s why courage is so imperative. We simply can’t wait until we feel brave to put our hand up for a bigger role, to ask for a promotion or voice an opinion other may disagree with. We have to take action amid our fears that doing so may result in disapproval, rejection or outright failure.

Of course not only women struggle with doubt but it’s my experience that we tend to doubt ourselves ore and back ourselves less than the men we live and work with.

It’s why we must decide to #BeBoldForChange not just on International Women’s Day, but every day. Why? Because changing the world around us begins with changing the world within us. Daring to do more and be more even though we fear we’ll fall short in the process.

Closing the gender gap will require stepping up, leaning into discomfort and acting with the confidence we women often wish we had (or had more of!)  So if you’re wondering what you can do to make the world a better place for everyone, look first within and then do whatever is the first thing that comes to mind when you ask yourself this question:

What would I do today if I were being really brave?

Below are ten to get you started!

1. Ask for what you want

That’s right, it’s simple enough but let’s face it, too often we dilute what we ask for or don’t ask at all for fear of seeming needy or being rejected. But as I’ve written before, how can you expect to get what you want if you’re not willing to ask for it.

2. Say no

It’s a short little word but it’s one may women struggle to say because we know the person who’s extended the invitation or offer doesn’t want to hear it. But if you’re ever going to do what you really want to do you’ll often have to say no to good things to create space for great ones. Here’s a free video course I made for you to help you along.

3. Push back

Yes, you’re a nice person and you’re loathe to appear difficult but the truth is that if all you ever do is agree and go along to get along’ then sometimes you’re selling yourself short. Way short. Pushing back isn’t about being pushy. It’s just owning your right to see things differently to others. Sure women can get called bossy or bitchy for simply speaking their truth but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t! Being bold for change is all about risking a little push back for a cause that’s bigger than your own comfort.

4. Own your worth

Next time you’re talking about what you do, talk about it in a powerful way that lets people know you see the value in what you do (even if they have yet to realize it). Too often our fear of seeming like we are bragging keeps us from talking about what we’re up to. Time to own it!

5. Risk rejection

It’s not rejection you’re afraid of, it’s how you will feel because of what you make it mean… a personal inadequacy on your part; evidence that you are ‘less than worthy’ in some way. It doesn’t mean that at all. The truth is you need to risk a lot of rejections if you want to get ahead in your business, career and life. If you’re still licking a wound from a previous rejection, watch this.

6. Own your difference

We all like to belong to a group but too often we let our fear of disapproval keep us from expressing who we really are and owning what makes us different. So don’t dial yourself down for fear of standing out. Just be 100% of whoever it is you truly are. As I wrote in this recent Forbes column, “When all you do is try to fit in and conform, all you offer is conformity. It’s what sets you apart from others that makes you interesting.”

7. Take a risk

Women are naturally more cautious than men. It’s why women are far less likely to engage in high risks sports or suffer spinal injuries. We don’t get the same buzz from going fast as men. Yet we can often be more reticent to take the very risks that would enable us to get ahead. As I wrote in Brave, if there’s something you’d really love to do or change, embrace the discomfort of risk taking and just do it.

8. Ditch all guilt

Some guilt is healthy. Like if you haven’t paid your taxes or you’ve done something that’s violated a core value and leaves you out of integrity with yourself. More often though our guilt is driven by social norms and rules that we’ve unwittingly bought into. If you’re a working mother, you’ll know all about that. But here’s the deal, how can you teach your kids to go out and pursue their dreams if you aren’t pursuing yours? You can’t! Or not with any credibility anyway.

So lay all the ‘shoulds’ to the side and ask yourself, what is it that you would love to do so much that you know even if it pulls you away from your kids more often than you’d like, you know that they (as well as you) will ultimately be better off because you’ve done it? If you’re still struggling.

9. Expand your tribe

The more people who know who you are, what you can do and what you’d love to do more of, the more people who can help you get there. So think about who it is that you’d love to build a relationship with and find a way to connect with them.

10. Challenge your story

You live in an intricate web of stories about who you are, about what you can do and, just as importantly, what you can’t. Your stories are the truth but they have the power to shape your life. So if you’ve been telling yourself a story that you’re too old, too young or that you’re not ‘enough of something’ try telling yourself another one and see what possibilities open up for you.

 

MargieWarrell-670HighResolutionMargie Warrell is a bestselling author, women’s leadership coach and international speaker. Watch her videos at www.MargieWarrell.com 


In 2015 we talked about ‘Making it Happen’.  This year we’re being asked to make a pledge for parity.  I’m confused. If we ‘made it happen’ then why do we need to pledge?

Perhaps it’s because we talked about ‘making it happen’ but didn’t find time to actually fulfil the words. Because it stayed on the bottom of the ‘to do’ list of our busy lives. Perhaps we still intend to ‘make it happen’ when we find time. Or maybe we spoke about ‘making it happen’ without the intent to see it through or belief that we could accomplish it. Someone else will run with it, won’t they?  We hurried back to work and went about our daily lives because the doers or dreamers will take the lead, won’t they? Or perhaps we really tried but failed.  You know, like that diet that the Ben and Jerry’s setback spoiled.

This sound familiar?

Not for me.  I talked and wrote about three things I would do to ‘make it happen’.  I shared them widely.  And I crossed all three of them off my list.  It wasn’t hard.  Because I made them a priority. Not a priority in the future when my daughter starts her career.  I made it a priority today.

I said I would:

  1.  Choose my words carefully. Language should be gender neutral so as to be inclusive. It should be motivating and encouraging for all children. Most of all it should be kind to yourself – ban the words common in negative thoughts!
  2. Mentor and seek mentors. Giving and seeking out the same mentoring advice as my male peers. I wouldn’t just tell the women to work on their soft skills and the men to work on their business acumen. I would give them the same message regardless of gender.
  3. Make a stand for flexible working arrangements, regardless of the different meanings it has for different people. For me, it give me the ability to juggle my board roles, make time for my mentoring passion via Steel Heels, and most importantly, be a great Mum to little Chloe.

Over the last year I ‘made it happen’ by:

(1) Asking audiences and colleagues to correct me when my language fails the gender neutral test.  I’ve been conscious of language when conversing with Miss Chloe, putting particular emphasis on how I categorise certain occupations (I used ‘they’ rather than ‘he’ or ‘she’).  I was not perfect, but I got a lot better.

(2) Mentoring many women and men.  Face-to-face – I spent my daily coffee break meeting someone for a quick chat.  I spent my drive down the freeway in the morning mentoring those in remote locations. I also mentored thousands through Steel Heels and I grew my Steel Heels community by offering a half hour mentoring session in exchange for a Steel Heels guest blog.  Worked a treat!  Quid pro quo.  I also shared my own stories, experiences and ideas.

(3) Agreeing on part-time working arrangements with my executive role employer.  I said no to breakfast functions so I could spend that quality time with Miss Chloe.  And I found support via innovative resourcing methods to grow Steel Heels.

Step up and convert your words into actions

I love hearing the community conversation turning towards diversity, parity and equality.  But I love creating and implementing actions that drive change even more.  If you are talking but not doing, then take the next step.  Step up and convert your words into actions.  Make your pledge a measureable action.  Be open about it.  Commit yourself and tell others to hold you to account.  Don’t be shy.

So, to my pledge.

I pledge to maintain focus on my three actions. In doing so, I will continue to focus on implementing initiatives aimed at increasing the self-confidence of women in the workplace.  I pledge to continue talking but to ensure my actions speak louder.  I pledge to continue to grow Steel Heels (the online mentoring platform I founded).  I pledge to broaden the reach of Steel Heels, particularly to younger women who are just embarking on their careers.  I pledge to work with corporates around the globe to introduce Steel Heels as a tool to support their workforce.  And I pledge to be open to new ideas.

What is your #PledgeforParity?

What will you do to make it a priority?

Sharon Warburton has been smashing glass ceilings in the resources and construction industries for more than 20 years.  Today she is a Non Executive Director, a NFP Director, single mum to Miss Chloe and a mentor to many.  Sharon is the 2014 Telstra WA Business Woman of the Year and the NAB Women’s Agenda Mentor of the Year.  She is the founder of www.steelheels.com.au – an online mentoring platform aimed at increasing self-confidence in the workplace.


International Women’s Day (March 8th) is a day to celebrate the achievements of womankind, to recognise the contribution of our gender to worldwide peace and development and to bring issues that are directly affecting us to light.

This year marks twenty years since the fourth World Conference on Women in 1995 where the Beijing Platform for Action, a plan for increasing women’s rights, was developed and signed by 189 countries. The theme of this year’s International Women’s day events is ‘Beijing +20’, designed to spark a review of the document in regards to the progress that has been made in the campaign for gender equality, as well as to encourage further action.

Back home, the Australian National Committee for UN Women hosts events all over the nation. They suggest that you can get involved with the campaign by attending or hosting an event, becoming a member, selling ribbons or simply donating.

These are all fantastic ways to support the movement, but if you cannot commit the time to these initiatives, do not stress, you can still play a part!

There are many organisations operating across the world with the aim of empowering women to take control of their lives and achieve financial independency. This International Women’s Day, why not support these women by purchasing an item from one of these companies or charities? Better yet, gift them to your girlfriends and colleagues to spread the word about International Women’s Day, socially conscious organisations and the issue of gender equality!

Without further ado, let us introduce you to 9 such organisations that you can support to make a difference in the lives of women this International Women’s Day.

Gifts for International Women’s Day

1. Sawa Australia NSW Inc.

SAWA (Support Association for the Women of Afghanistan) Australia NSW is a charitable organisation whose current major project is providing free education to Afghan refugees via Heward High School in Pakistan. It is one of the only schools in Pakistan that remains open to Afghan girls where 147 students currently attend from grades 1-12.  Amongst more traditional subjects, the students are educated on the topic of women’s rights in an effort to change the next generation’s perception of gender roles.

To support the cause you can purchase an Eco Shopping Bag, available in a wide range of colours, or a pack of 6 gift cards to send to your girlfriends this IWD!

Eco Shopping Bags $10 each, Sawa Australia NSW Inc.

 

2. Popinjay

Popinjay is a company that grew from Founder Saba Gul’s realisation that artistic talent in her home country of Pakistan was stifled due to the lack of connection to the world market. So she set out to be the voice between the local and global markets and in the process developed a successful brand that is about quality over quantity, locally sourced raw materials and intricate handcraft. By providing above average wages and training Gul has enabled the women she employs to become financially independent.

Popinjay offer a range of limited edition products, including clutches and totes made from handwoven fabric and detailed with silk embroidery.

Baracoa Zip Clutch $205, Popinjay

3. Oxfam Shop

At Oxfam they are working on a sustainable solution to poverty that involves providing people in need with the training, resources and market exposure necessary for success. Oxfam currently has trading relationships with 136 producer groups in 38 countries (even including Australia!). They use their Oxfam shops to sell these hand-made and fair trade goods and by making a purchase you are supporting the small-scale producers around the world, as well as helping to raise funds for new and existing programs.

In store or online you can find a variety of unique goods including children’s toys, home décor, kitchen supplies, clothes and accessories, books and cards and food and drink at very affordable prices!

Jewelled Metal Cuffed Bracelet $16.95, Oxfam Shop

 

4. On Purpose by Kate Spade

Kate Spade has developed a range of handmade goods under the brand ‘On Purpose’. This is a side project of the company, who has set up training and production facilities in Masoro, Rwanda. They stress that the initiative “is not a charity project” and that they are “training them to become a profitable supplier and participate in the global marketplace”. By employing 150 women from the Masoro community they have been able to positively impact the lives of some 20,000 people in the community.

The On Purpose range extends across all brands under the company – Kate Spade New York, Kate Spade Saturday and Jack Spade (for men) – and you can purchase everything from bags, scarfs and jewellery, to beanies and hand-stitched pocket squares!

Kiss Me You Fool Clutch $198, Kate Spade On Purpose

 

5. Moeloco for the Hope Foundation

Kathy Wong’s MoeLoco, is a socially conscious brand that has been developed in line with the ‘buy-one-give-one’ business model to combat poverty, particularly amongst children. This means that for every pair of shoes purchased they will give a pair of shoes to the Hope Foundation for allocation to an orphan in need. This simple system will help the children avoid injury and health problems and attend school.

Currently MoeLoco stock beautifully designed thongs that feature inspirational messages on the top and sole. This is so that when you walk in the sand, you leave behind words of kindness such as ‘love’, ‘happiness’ and ‘peace’. How great is that?!

Dream Crazy Flip Flop $35, Moeloco

 

6. The Brave Collection

The Brave Collection is based in Cambodia and aims to empower women through job opportunities. They employ local women from disadvantaged backgrounds, single mothers or those with a disability to work in their studio producing hand-woven and carved jewellery. In return the women receive a fair working environment, above average wages, benefits such as health insurance, and are able to bring their children to work. In addition, The Brave Collection donates 10% of their profits to fight human trafficking and collaborates with local organisations to educate and empower the local women and girls through creative arts programs.

Each piece of jewellery sold by The Brave Collection has been dyed, woven and carved by hand. The ‘Brave Bracelet’ featured in the picture is one of their signature pieces. See their website for more beautiful designs!

Brave Bracelet (Deep Moss) $38, The Brave Collection

 

7. The Akola Project

The Akola Project is a not-for-profit organisation that believes the only sustainable way to reduce poverty is to empower women to become change makers in their community. They do this through a six step model that includes building community infrastructure, providing vocational training, producing globally competitive products, rewarding workers with above average wages, assisting beneficiaries with health and financial advice, and encouraging and supporting the women to embark on their own business venture. This approach means that each woman can support 10 children and is equipped with the skills and resources to make a better life. Until recently, Akola’s main focus has been communities in Uganda, but they have just introduced a program in Dallas, Texas.

Akola women create beautiful accessories using local materials and techniques. The cherry on the cake? 100% of the profits from the sale of these items are reinvested into the project.

Drape (Chartreuse) from $96, Akola Project

 

8. Women for Women International

WFWI run training and development programs for women in 8 countries to help them rebuild their lives after war. These programs provide the women with in-demand skills and a health education and inform them of their rights so that they may become active in household and community decision making.

Featured on their website is the link “Shop with a Purpose” where you will find the products created and the shops endorsed by WFWI. Recently they launched their first cookbook titled ‘Share’ that includes local recipes from around the world as well as individual stories of the women that completed the WFWI program. You will also find contributions from world-renowned chefs and humanitarians. What’s more, 100% of the profits go back to the program. The perfect gift for that master chef friend of yours!

‘Share – The Cookbook’ $28.34 (on Amazon), WFWI

 

9. Global Girlfriend

Global Girlfriend is a GreaterGood online store, which means that every purchase made gives a charity royalty between 5-30%.Global Girlfriend’s charity of choice is GROW (Girl’s Right to Opportunity Worldwide) who work to assist young girls to attend primary and secondary school by providing them with the necessary resources and covering tuition fees.

The products sold on Global Girlfriend’s website are women-made, fair-trade and eco-friendly and sourced from all over the world. You can find many affordable gifts, great clothes and accessories and find out all about the organisations who make them.

Bangladesh Botanical Note Paper & Pencil $10, Global Girlfriend

 

By purchasing a gift from any of these organisations you are making a real and positive impact on the lives of the women producers and their families across the world. International Women’s Day is a great excuse to check these organisations out and to realise the power of our daily spending in making a difference.
Happy International Women’s Day!

 

Authors:

Ozlem Beldan

Ozlem is the Founder of Spirit of Womankind – a platform for facilitating womankind’s reconnection to their truth so they feel free to design the lives they truly want to live. Ozlem is also an Associate at Xplore for Success – an organisation dedicated to driving gender equality in the workplace.

Sarah Phasey

Sarah is based in Melbourne, Australia where she is completing her Business degree.

Feature image credit: Moeloco