What #InternationalWomensDay Means to Me

Yesterday was International Women’s Day, and at the risk of sounding like a nerd, I have a confession. International Women’s Day is my favorite day of the year. I am a feminist, and believe in #girllove , but as I sit and reflect on all of the strong female influences in my life, I also feel enormous amounts of gratitude towards the men in my life.

I have been very fortunate in my life. I grew up in a household where my father treated all of his children the same, irrespective of their gender. He instilled a ‘why not me’ mind set in each of his children, and that led us each to achieve great success in our lives. He worked very hard for us to have the lives we have today. Even when he became severely ill, he pushed himself to provide for our family. It was a difficult time, but my mother was a great source of strength. She stepped in and ensured that we didn’t miss our after-school activities. That there was a meal on the table every single evening. I think I get my work ethic from her. She is a machine. To this day, I am convinced that she’s attached to a rechargeable battery pack. Even at the age of sixty, she can run laps around me. To this day, I have not met anyone with the same stamina as her.

My parents are a great team, and the person I am today is a result of their hard work.

I also have an exceptional partner, who is constantly pushing me to achieve more. He doesn’t believe in glass ceiling, and has a lot of confidence in me. He also doesn’t believe in gender specific roles, which I find annoying, especially when it comes to me having to cut the grass!  I love the smell of freshly cut grass, and apparently that is reason enough for me to have to cut it. But I have no problem with sitting outside and reading a book while he cuts it. We often joke that he is more of a feminist than I am, and deep down, I think we both know it’s true. He is often disappointed in the media because he doesn’t like the way women are portrayed. He has concerns about  the impact the media will have our younger cousins, nieces and nephews, and how they perceive themselves and females. He is definitely vocal about these concerns.

Lastly, I work for an exceptional multi-national corporation that doesn’t believe in glass ceilings. In our company the VP, General Manager and two regional sales managers are females. To see women occupy these roles is very motivating. These are women who have had to manage the work life balance and have made great strides in a male dominated industry.  I also have an exceptional team lead, who I would consider a feminist. He motivates me and has helped me immensely with my career. Even when I feel that I won’t excel, he reminds me to have confidence and do my best. He’s taught me that my best is good enough, but I need to learn to walk before I can run. He’s also taught me that learning is a process, it’s not an end state. These are very valuable lessons that I can apply in both my professional and personal life.

Reflecting on international women’s day, I am reminded that this day is not only about the exceptional women in our lives, but the exceptional men who propel women’s rights forward. I am the person I am today because of the lessons I have learned from both genders.

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