What is International Women’s Day?
International Women’s Day is a global day celebrating the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women. The day also marks a call to action for accelerating gender parity.
Significant activity is witnessed worldwide as groups come together to celebrate women’s achievements or rally for women’s equality.
Marked annually on 8 March, International Women’s Day is one of the most important days of the year to:
- celebrate women’s achievements
- raise awareness about women’s equality
- lobby for accelerated gender parity
- fundraise for female-focused charities
This year’s theme is Women in leadership: achieving an equal future in a COVID-19 world.
We asked some of our colleagues and leaders here at Certitude to talk to us about what leadership looks like to them, and why gender equality in this area is especially important:
Helen Cairns, Treat Me Right! Manager
“When I was younger, I always thought being a leader was about being tough. It took me a long time to find a management style I was comfortable with and that got results. I soon realised that it is easier to lead than to manage. Leading is about creating a culture that makes people feel like they have the base to grow and can make mistakes that they can learn from, rather than hide from. Leading is not about making people fear you with your status, it’s about showing them respect so that they can grow to respect you. This ensures that everyone works together towards the same goal.
I thought that I shied away from confrontation because I wanted to be nice, and that was weak. I now realise with age and experience that wanting to be nice and being weak are not the same thing. In fact, I realise now that those that shout the loudest and create cultures of fear are often the weakest.
The reason I mention this is that in the early part of my career, my male mangers wanted me to be tougher, to be confrontational if that was needed and to distance myself to create respect, but that’s not who I wanted to be, inside or outside work.
As my confidence and competence grew, I realised that I could get people to buy in to what I was trying to create by listening to their ideas and worries instead of putting my feet down.”
Lavern Dinah, Organisation Development Consultant
“Leadership in terms of managing service and especially staff was not the first thing on my mind when I thought of my career plans. I dreaded it, especially the idea of having to manage people. I now know from the work I have done in developing leadership programmes that I was not alone in that! I was initially in a consultancy role that evolved into a leadership role where I found myself managing more and more staff and then running services.
My default style is a coaching approach, which I believe is one of the most important skills I have learnt as a leader. This has helped me to navigate some choppy waters in my career but has also been a great tool for helping to empower others to realise their potential and rewrite their narratives about what they can do and achieve.
I can only be the leader I am – authentically me! One that is always growing and willing to learn more about what I can become if I just say yes when great opportunities, linked to my core values, come knocking at my door, or even the opportunities I have to create myself.
The election in America of Kamala Harris is another positive sign that more women are moving into more significantly high-profile leadership roles. This is to be celebrated! Her appointment is also a great source of motivation for future generations of women across the world to never give up on their dreams of becoming a leader and remember, age is just a number.
I am not daunted by being one of a few women leaders in a room. I just see it both as an opportunity and responsibility to make a difference and to contribute in a way that adds values.”
Anne Corrigan, Treat Me Right! trainer
“Being a good leader to me right now is about making sure all staff and people we support are kept safe. We are all sailing in the COVID-19 boat together; ring up your colleagues to find out how their day is going. Now that there is a vaccine there is a light at the end of the tunnel!”
Aisling Duffy, CEO of Certitude
“I am very fortunate to have many brilliant women in my life. Women who are incredible role models for me and who stand up to stereotypes and assumptions about who they are and what they represent. This started with my mum who was the most formidable advocate for women and girls facing domestic violence. Understanding gender inequality and the need to fight for women’s rights was part and parcel of who I was from a very young age. Thanks Mum!
I am proud of the gender diversity we have in Certitude, from the Chair of the Board to the many women working at every level in our organisation including women with mental health needs and learning disabilities focussed on changing a piece of the world for others. Women who have stepped forward in so many ways to help our teams, communities and families cope with the impact of the pandemic.”
“Today, I celebrate each of us and all of us as women leaders. We know a gender equal world is a better world – healthier, happier and more harmonious.
The fight for gender equality must continue – we must be courageous to speak up about inequality and amplify the voice of women at every opportunity.
At Certitude we want everyone to be able to be their complete self at work and not feel judged or discriminated for who we are. Supporting women’s development, amplifying our voices, listening to and acting on our suggestions as together with our many allies we build a stronger fairer world.
I invite you on International Women’s Day to take the time to celebrate the women in your life – a colleague, sister, daughter, mother – tell them the difference they are making and amplify their voice! We are the change we want to see.”