Empowerment

What Does Your New Normal Look Like?

A large portion of the country is reopening, and while that can signal a return to the office – at least part time – for many, it won’t be a return to “normal”. We’re going to be leaving our homes for a very different world. And while some people can’t wait for “things to get back to normal,” the question we need to be asking is, “Was that ’normal’ the best that we could do?”

Prior to the pandemic shutdown we were a society on the go. We were a schedule-driven, multitasking mob with goals, agendas, and very little downtime. We defined ourselves by doing, not by being, and wore our busyness like a badge of honor. We scheduled our kids, ourselves, our weekends, and our holidays. We scheduled it all and we were busy, busy, busy. That busyness came at a cost though, it was making us sick. Dr. Susan Koven, Massachusetts General Hospital, noticed the trend and wrote, “In the past few years, I’ve observed an epidemic of sorts: patient after patient suffering from the same condition. The symptoms of this condition include fatigue, irritability, insomnia, anxiety, headaches, heartburn, bowel disturbances, back pain, and weight gain. There are no blood tests or X-rays diagnostic of this condition, and yet it’s easy to recognize. The condition is excessive busyness.”

However, early this year that busyness stopped – abruptly –and the time of the great reflection began. Why were we so busy? What did that busyness mean? Why did that busyness matter? And most importantly, what’s next? Our dilemma is global and can best be summed up by a piece of graffiti in Hong Kong that proclaims, “We can’t return to normal, because the normal we had was precisely the problem.”

While these past weeks have been traumatizing, in certain ways they’ve been a gift. We have been able to connect with our immediate and extended families; we’re consistently reaching out to neighbors and friends; we’re reengaging with our communities (from a distance), and we’re focusing on the people that make our lives full. We’re more mindful of our time; we’re focusing on self-care; we’re picking up old hobbies; we’re cooking; we’re making art, and while many of us are still working, we’re not traveling, networking, or engaging in the extraneous noise, or busyness of it all. We’ve been able to enjoy the quiet, and in some ways, are reluctant to let it go.

As we start to look at what’s next and define our new normal, we need to take stock of these past few weeks and evaluate what we want to take forward with us. Is it unscheduled weekends or daily walks? Is it a consistent focus on self care? Could it be a regular opportunity to make art? More time with friends? Or watching the sunset? Now – before the busyness sets in – it’s time to pause, take stock, and ask yourself what you really want. We’re all in this together and if we want to collectively benefit from these times, we need to support one another, be clear with our intentions, and define what we truly want our new normal to look like.

 

Girl Up Initiative Uganda is Changing Lives

Many young girls living in the urban slums of Kampala, Uganda, struggle with a lack of educational and economic opportunities. In a culture where a male’s education is prioritized, a disproportionate number of girls do not complete school, are often forced marry early, feel like they don’t matter, and lack the skills needed to contribute to their families, which lowers their self-esteem and self-confidence.

Monica Nyiraguhabwa was one of those young women struggling to complete her education until a chance encounter with Kimberly Wolf, a young American woman passionate about girls’ rights and leadership, changed everything. While their backgrounds and circumstances were different, they both related to the challenges that come with growing up as a girl in today’s world and the power of having someone believe in them.

Together, they dreamed up the idea of Girl Up Initiative Uganda (GUIU) after visiting Monica’s community and identifying the need to advance educational and economic opportunities for young women and adolescent girls in these slum areas. They named it “Girl Up” because they wanted the name of the organization to reflect their commitment to lifting girls out of a life of poverty and gender inequality. Just as boys are taught to “man up,” the two wanted girls to be taught to “girl up” and realize their power and strength as girls.

What started out as an idea with $100 seed money has grown into a movement in just eight short years. Each year, the number of girls and young women that GUIU helps increases as the organization grows. This year, Girl Up intends to directly help 15,000 girls and young women and equip them with the skills, knowledge, tools, and provide mentorship and support to develop their self-confidence and voice to thrive as leaders in their schools and communities.

“We aim to contribute to systematic change in the community by ensuring that girls are recognized as active agents of change,” Monica said. “By empowering girls, both individually and collectively, to challenge the patriarchal social order, they become spokespersons for girls’ rights and become drivers of systemic gendered change in the community.”

Girl Up has directly helped over 70,000 girls and young women through various programs since 2012 and encourages the girls and young women to share their learnings and acquired knowledge with others who do not benefit from the programs. The girls are also eager to use the leadership skills and confidence they have gained through the program to mentor other girls. Girl Up estimates that each girl will reach an additional five girls, creating positive ripple effects throughout their schools and communities.

Its mission is to create a gender equal world by equipping girls and young women with the confidence, mentorship, skills, and knowledge to reach their full potential. The organization currently has Coaches (facilitators) who not only train girls, but act as positive role models for at-risk girls. Programs include:

The Adolescent Girls Program

GUIU has run the Adolescent Girls Program (AGP) as its flagship program to advance the educational opportunities for adolescent girls aged 9-15 living in urban slum areas in Kampala since 2013. An in-school program, AGP focuses on building adolescent girls’ capacities for individual empowerment and social survival, especially in patriarchal environments that do not value and respect the rights of girls and women. It consists of a cluster of synergistic activities to ensure that girls receive the skills, knowledge, tools, mentorship, and support to develop their self-confidence and voice to thrive as leaders in their schools and communities.

The Big Sister Network

In 2016, GUIU launched The Big Sisters Network, as they recognized that graduates of the AGP needed continued support and opportunities to grow their leadership and influencing capacities. It now ensures that AGP alumni continue to access female- focused education and stay involved and engaged with GUIU and their fellow graduates. In 2019, GUIU realized one of its biggest organizational dreams – the Big Sister Camp – where 210 girls converged for a residential camp full of learning, laughing, and playing. It was a magical four days to honor and further develop the leadership potentials of our Big Sisters. In 2020, they plan to have another Big Sister Camp for 260 promising girl leaders.

Mazuri Designs Hub

Mazuri Designs Hub was first launched in 2015 in recognition of the limited economic opportunities for out-of-school young women in the communities GUIU works with. Uganda’s  70% youth unemployment rate leaves them financially dependent on men and struggling to support themselves and their families. Therefore, Girl Up launched a social enterprise to offer young women skills training that could provide them with a sustainable income. Today, the Mazuri Designs Hub training program offers a one-year vocational training course in fashion, design, and tailoring that is combined with entrepreneurial and personal skills training for young women, ages 16-35 years. The young women are trained by experienced tailors and given the opportunity to showcase their products at the fashion show graduation at the end of the course.  The project advances economic opportunities for the young women and has had a positive impact on their incomes. In GUIU’s 2019 post-project survey, 67% young women reported that their average weekly income had increased after participating in the program, all due to selling products they sewed.

Ni-Yetu Youth Program

GUIU has partnered with Plan International Uganda since 2015 to implement the Ni-Yetu Youth Project in all five divisions of Kampala. The aim of the project is to empower young people, ages 13-24 years, with correct knowledge, attitude and skills for reducing gender-based violence and improving their sexual and reproductive health and rights outcomes. The Ni-Yetu Youth Project is a gender transformative project that looks at challenging negative social norms and practices that affect SRHR outcomes amongst young people. It uses youth innovative approaches such as street theatre performances, youth-friendly health camps, peer-to-peer education, music campaigns, and sports outreaches. While the project reaches out to both genders, it benefits young women specifically by changing attitudes towards gender inequality in the communities they live in. Even though girls and women constitute GUIU’s focus group, the organization understands that boys and men must also be engaged in the fight for gender equality given that they are the other half of the equation when it comes to advancing girls’ rights and ending gender-based violence.

As Girl Up’s programs have grown over the years, their staff has too. “We are proud of the growth of our young, female-led, Ugandan team. Girl Up now employs 20 full time Ugandan staff, 76% of which are female and 85% under the age of 30 years. Providing employment and volunteer opportunities to aspiring and dedicated young Ugandans is an essential part of our mission and the way we work,” Monica said. “These vibrant young people make up the GUIU Dream Team – we dream together, create ideas together, and make change happen together! Each team member brings their own unique skills, talents, and ideas to enable the organization to grow and transform more lives.”

“We have achieved many exciting milestones, and I have been blessed to work in a job I am extremely passionate about. My biggest highlight is seeing the growth and development of our girls as they become powerful and confident young women in my community. Many of them are now in university and secondary school, and stay in touch with me. I love to see how GUIU has impacted their lives in positive ways,” Monica said. “Because I work in the same community that has seen me grow up, they are now seeing me in this position as a woman and a leader. I love going into the community to engage with the adolescent girls and tell them my story to inspire them to re-write their stories so they can achieve their dreams.”

Monica and Kimberly have garnered some international attention for their efforts too and have appeared on NBC’s The Today Show with Michelle Obama in 2018 (see here) and were invited to meet Oprah Winfrey at her home last year. Monica has also had the opportunity to speak up for girls through the Obama Africa Fellowship, Cordes Fellowship, iLEAP Fellowship, and African Visionary Fellowship with the Segal Family Foundation.

People can help Girl Up Initiative Uganda by following and sharing updates through social media platforms (@girlupuganda on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram) and by subscribing to their newsletter at www.girlupuganda.org. You can also support GUIU’s work to change the lives of young women and girls and donate to their cause at www.girlupuganda.org/donate.

How Sexism Blocks Women Candidates

When the final two top tier Democrat presidential candidates dropped out of the presidential race, it became clear that the primary qualification they lacked was being a white man. Some may claim it was a lack of support, and others may cite a lack of momentum, but few can point to a lack of qualifications. Senators Elizabeth Warren and Amy Klobuchar, as well as the other women that initially joined them in their bid – namely Senators Kirsten Gillibrand and Kamela Harris – are all more than qualified with a proven track record of leadership in local, state, and national government, except that no woman has ever been president. Until we see a woman in that position, sexism will continue to be a hurdle blocking women candidates from being President.

Looking at their qualifications and their overall electability, the odds are good that their struggles had very little to do with their platforms, and everything to do with their gender. Warren’s loss in particular brought home the fact that for the second time in four years, an exceptionally qualified female candidate lost to her male counterparts — some of whom were far less qualified.

Sexism was definitely a factor in this campaign. While it may not have been THE factor, it carried weight. Female candidates had to prove their qualifications more than the men they were up against, and they had to deal with increased media scrutiny and gender bias, and they faced greater issues surrounding likeability and voter perception on the campaign trail than their male counterparts. All of which of course, was further amplified via social media.

Warren spoke about the gender “trap” Thursday.

“Gender in this race — you know, that is the trap question for every woman,” Warren said after announcing she would be suspending her campaign. “If you say, ‘Yeah, there was sexism in this race,’ everyone says, ‘Whiner.’ And if you say, ‘There was no sexism,’ about a bazillion women think, ‘What planet do you live on?’”

Melissa K. Miller, a political science professor at Bowling Green State University in Ohio, told NBC News that this week’s events could make it harder for women running for president to succeed in the future. “Folks are convinced that a woman can’t win, so they don’t vote for a woman, thus ensuring that a woman doesn’t win, and the cycle continues. The reality is that a woman can win. Hillary Clinton’s victory by about 3 million popular votes in 2016 made that clear.”

Apparently, America isn’t ready for a woman president. However, it’s important to remember that we still have a number of women running down the ballot that can run their races and win, and they need our support. The first thing we can do is recognize the fact that gender bias is alive and well in politics, and the women running (and serving) now know it and face it every day. It is our responsibility to call out the comments that seek to undermine them, name them as biases and talk about them. To help more women represent us at every level we need to encourage them, counteract the public ridicule they often face, and offer them our support. Their courage and willingness to work hard to solve the issues that can make the world a better place for all of us is admirable and necessary. They are paving the way for that woman who will finally break through the sexism bias and become our first woman president.

To Get More Women in Leadership It’s Time to Take The Lead

“When women support one another, we can create massive ripples of change that create better lives for everyone.” – Gloria Feldt

Over the past five years, the number of women in senior leadership has grown. Still, women continue to be underrepresented at every level. Why? For starters, women are less likely to be hired and promoted to manager. In fact, for every 100 men promoted and hired to manager, only 72 women are promoted and hired. As a result, men hold 62% of manager-level positions, while women hold just 38%. The number of women decreases at every subsequent level, reducing to a minuscule 5% at the CEO level.

That’s where organizations like Take The Lead Women can create real change. Designed for women ready to take ownership of their careers (and lives), Take The Lead gives women the tools they need to up their game with 9 Leadership Power Tools courses, 50 Women Can Change the World programs, Virtual Happy Hours, leadership coaching and much more.

This week in Scottsdale, Arizona, Take The Lead celebrates progress with the Power Up Conference: 50 Women Can Change the World 2.0, spotlighting their work to teach, mentor, coach, invigorate, and inspire women who are committed to owning their power and using their voice to become influential leaders of change. The conference will offer two full days of learning, and participants will experience extraordinary leadership development including workshops, panel discussions, lightning talks, accelerated roundtable discussions, and networking.

Take the Lead was founded in 2014 by Gloria Feldt and Amy Litzenberger, with the bold mission to reach leadership gender parity by 2025. That’s 70 to 150 years faster than the prevalent projections. Gloria is certain that this is the moment when a quantum leap to parity can occur. She is convinced that through Take the Lead’s uniquely effective programs, based on solid research and measurable results, women will embrace their phenomenal power to lead with purpose, confidence, intention and joy – without fear or apology.

Dr. Nancy currently serves as Take The Lead’s board chair, and Women Connect4Good, Inc., which supports women helping women networks, is proud to support Take The Lead and help them equip women with the tools they need to achieve parity by 2025.  That partnership not only advances women into leadership positions across all sectors, it proves our power   to transform women’s leadership when we work together.

To learn more about Take The Lead and the upcoming Power Up Conference, go to www.taketheleadwomen.com.

Dr. Nancy Honored by National Women’s History Museum

Women Making History AwardsThe National Women’s History Museum (NWHM) announced last week that they will celebrate the accomplishments of outstanding women at the 8th Annual Women Making History Awards on International Women’s Day (Sunday, March 8, 2020). Each year, the event honors a select group of women for their significant contributions to their fields and inspiration to people everywhere. This year, the event will honor actresses and advocates Andie MacDowell and Logan Browning, President and CEO of ECOS® Kelly Vlahakis-Hanks, and our very own inspirational leader Women Connect4Good, Inc. founder and President Dr. Nancy D. O’Reilly.

Dr. Nancy was chosen for the honor for her professional success and extensive work in advancing women and gender equity. In her notification letter, National Women’s History Museum President and CEO, Holly Hotchner wrote, “We were so inspired not only by your incredible achievements in a male-dominated industry, but by your commitment to empowering women worldwide. Through your foundation, Women Connect4Good, Inc., you are helping create a culture where women help other women reach their full potential both professionally and personally. You are a true role model and inspiration for women and girls everywhere, and by sharing your story and expressing your support for the Museum’s mission, you will help us achieve our vision to inspire others to experience history and amplify the impactful role of women, past, present, and future.”

Previous honorees include #MeToo Founder Tarana Burke; actresses Kristen Bell, Kerry Washington, Tracee Ellis Ross, Viola Davis, and Rita Moreno; SpaceX President and COO Gwynne Shotwell; photographer Annie Leibovitz; the late author and poet Dr. Maya Angelou; former First Lady Laura Bush; and Instagram COO Marne Levine.

“The incredible women we’re honoring at this year’s Women Making History Awards are true trailblazers,” Holly said. “They each have played a pivotal role in working to amplify women’s voices through activism, storytelling, business and philanthropy, and we couldn’t be more excited to recognize and celebrate their important achievements and contributions.”

Founded in 1996, the National Women’s History Museum is the nation’s only women’s history museum and the most recognized institution dedicated to uncovering, interpreting, and celebrating women’s diverse contributions to society.  A renowned leader in women’s history education, the museum brings to life the countless untold stories of women throughout history, and serves as a space for all to inspire, experience, collaborate, and amplify women’s impact. As we enter 2020 and prepare to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment, the museum will also focus on its most exciting chapter – working to build a physical home for the museum in Washington D.C., where innovative design will bring to life the countless untold stories of women throughout history and become the first museum to show the full scope and history of its women. For details on the award, click HERE, and to learn more about the museum, go to www.womenshistory.org.

Big Advancements in Gender Equality Expected in 2020

Gender Equality2020 is a shaping up to be a big year for advancements in gender equality. In fact, The Guardian reports that world leaders, civil society and the private sector are preparing to make 2020 the biggest year yet for the advancement of women’s rights. Building on previous events, commemorating positive shifts and goals  of note, supporting women leaders, and planning for new ways to close the gap are just a few of the ways that we can collectively continue our work to secure equal rights and opportunities for all.

For starters, thousands of people are expected to attend high-level UN events and forums in Mexico City and Paris to mark the 25th anniversary of the Beijing Platform for Action, the landmark agreement to end gender inequality. In addition to the Beijing anniversary, 2020 also marks two decades since UN Security Council Resolution 1325 first acknowledged women’s unique experience of conflict and their lack of involvement in peace negotiations, with anniversary events being planned for October. The New Year “also kicks off the 10-year countdown to achieve the UN Sustainable Development Goals, which includes a commitment to end gender inequality by 2030.”

In the U.S., 2020 is also a year to celebrate as it marks the 100th anniversary of the passage of the 19th Amendment, guaranteeing and protecting women’s constitutional right to vote. This historic anniversary offers an incredible opportunity to recognize an important milestone of our nation’s democracy and provides an ideal opportunity to explore its relevance to the issues of equal rights today. The 2020 Women’s Vote Centennial Initiative is serving as an informational clearinghouse, and publishing events hosted by local, state, and national groups who are working to, “remember the legacy of suffragists around the country with monuments, memorials, and projects that honor the life and work of the women who dedicated themselves to the fight for women’s equality.”

It’s also important to keep in mind that 2020 is an election year, and just as 2018 saw the biggest wave of women elected to government in history, with 2,133 women being sworn into America’s state legislatures.  Since the election, women also hold 25 seats in the U.S. Senate and 101 seats in the House, voters can expect this year to provide more of the same momentum. Whether eyeing the school board, mayor, state legislature, or the highest office in the land, women are running and they need our help to win.

In fact, supporting the women running or preparing to run could very well be where we can have the greatest impact in the coming year. While all eyes tend to focus on the presidency and national or even statewide offices, we need to also look local as Kate Black, former chief of staff and vice president of research for EMILY’s List points out, “There are over 500,000 offices that you can run for in this country.”

“It’s not just the 435 in the U.S. House of Representatives or the 100 in the Senate or even that Oval Office on Pennsylvania Avenue.” Black said. “It’s this whole landscape that’s available to women.”

“If women run, women win,” says Debbie Walsh, director of the Center for American Women and Politics at Rutgers University said. So, whether it’s the school board, city government, state or national office, we need to lend our support to help another woman run. That is how we make our voices heard. We need to celebrate the women who have paved the way and support those ready to follow their lead. It’s when women help women that we all win, and it is time to recognize the road we’ve traveled, support one another through what lies ahead, and do our part to make 2020 the biggest year ever for advancing gender equality.

Push Her Forward and Vote Her In

Political Activist for Women

Rebecca Sive

Rebecca Sive was raised to work hard, get educated and in turn, teach others. Most of all she was raised by parents who thought it was important to advocate for democratic values and help get people elected to create equal opportunities and fairness for all. Since the 2016 election, and the subsequent Women’s March, Rebecca has been inspired to increase her advocacy for women and write her newest book, Vote Her In: Your Guide to Electing Our First Woman President.

#VOTEHERIN

Convinced that the time is now, Rebecca points out that a woman already got elected to the presidency by the popular vote. A fact she uses to make the case that the American people, both men and women, are ready for a woman president. In Vote Her In, she helps women – especially those who did not vote for the woman for president – see how they actually voted against their own interests.

Rebecca explains that the road to better health care, improved child care and education for all is by electing a woman president. Women understand the need for these things, which is why it just doesn’t make sense to vote for someone who does not address the issues in their policies. She also explains the ways that a woman president would help women reach parity sooner, first by demonstrating the ways that women make great leaders, and second through policies to promote equal pay and status in the workplace.

“When A Woman Leads, Everyone Wins.”

Women are proving that they can lead every day. In fact, as a result of their leadership, companies are more profitable, and policies are more beneficial to all.  Originally recorded in October, 2018, Dr. Nancy asked Rebecca who might run for president and Rebecca pointed out that women have been running and winning for years. Although only one-fifth of the Senate are women and there are only six governors, there are a number of women who have executive experience. She predicted that after the 2018 mid-terms, a pool of women would start to throw their hats into the ring. Early next year (2019), they will begin fundraising and announcing their intentions for 2020.  She predicted that regardless of where you stand ideologically or politically, you will have a choice and begin to see women leaders speaking out. (Rebecca was absolutely right. At this update, the field of six women running for President has thinned to four, but that’s still more than ever before at this stage of the campaign.)

In the second part of Vote Her In Rebecca encourages women to get behind the woman they choose and help her get elected. This how-to section of the book gives readers advice and direction for how to engage with the political process and push that deserving woman toward the presidency. Rebecca says women do it all the time. We lift each other up and help one another achieve our goals. We can elect a woman president and the country is very ready for it.

Listen to this interview for more inspiring comments and insights. Check out Rebecca’s website and get her book. Use #VOTEHERIN whenever possible and get this movement moving. If all of us push together we can Vote Her In!

 

Level Up – The Diversity Women’s Business Leadership Conference

Since its inception, Diversity Woman Magazine has recognized the importance of leadership development and empowerment for diverse women. Aiming to educate and support diverse and multicultural women leaders and to facilitate their continued growth and success, the organization more than delivered through their annual Business Leadership Conference in November.

Attracting diverse and multicultural business leaders from the world’s largest corporations and entrepreneurs from successful women-owned businesses, the Conference not only served as the perfect place for women to make connections, it also provided plenty of information for women to further their development. Boasting notable speakers and powerhouse panels, attendees were able to gain wisdom and insight from some of the most influential women leaders in the nation.

Take The Lead’s Co-Founder and President Gloria Feldt provided a flash talk on the Conference’s first day. With “Intentional Woman: Be BOLD and Carry OUT!” Gloria told attendees that the real secret to reaching their full leadership potential while helping all women get their fair and equal share of leadership roles starts with “I.” But it’s far from selfish. It is all about embracing the power of your own intention. Of taking those elements of female socialization that have traditionally held women back and turning them into assets, superpowers even.

Additional presentations and panels guided attendees on strategies for advancing in business, such as “Bold Moves for a Disruptive World” and “Three Rules for Winning in Corporate America”, and Leadership Coaching helped attendees do everything from navigating a project to developing their personal brand.

The Women Connect4Good Foundation was a diamond level sponsor of this year’s event, and Dr. Nancy was on hand to host the Conference’s Opening Reception and along with Dr. Sheila Robinson, Founder of Diversity Women’s Business Leadership Conference, delivered opening remarks on day two – helping attendees get supercharged for a day of powerful learning and inspiration.

Dr. Nancy recalled the first time she attended the Diversity Women Business Conference, and said it was the most amazing experience she’d ever had. It was the first time she truly understood the words inclusive and sisterhood. In order to deepen that understanding, Dr. Nancy had to look first of all at privilege, and how with privilege comes responsibility.

In her latest book, In This Together, we quote Michael Kimmel who said in a TED Talk, “Privilege is invisible to those who have it.” His point was that we have unconscious biases that prevent us from recognizing our own privilege. In fact, we are privileged if we don’t even see our race or gender when we look in the mirror.

This week’s podcast guest, Trudy Bourgeois, founder of The Center for Workforce Excellence said it best when she told Dr. Nancy, “You don’t know what you don’t know.” She said that if we are to create equality for all women, we have to name our biases and talk about them. Her recent book tells how we can transform our work environments by admitting our biases and engaging in tough, uncomfortable conversations. It’s called EQUALITY: Courageous Conversations about Women, Men, AND Race in the Workplace to Spark a Diversity and Inclusion Breakthrough.

Trudy and Dr. Nancy met a few years ago at the Diversity Women’s Business Leadership Conference, and Trudy point-blank confronted Dr. Nancy with the question, “What’s wrong with you white women?” Trudy’s question had to do with the advantages that white women have had and squandered. Now, Dr. Nancy believes what’s wrong is, “We’re afraid to step outside the lines for fear of retribution ourselves. While we have to be twice as educated and work twice as hard to get half as much as our male counterparts, we realize it is our responsibility to make sure that no woman has to work twice as hard to get half as far as her white sisters.”

Chelsea Handler has said that when it comes to privilege, it’s about taking responsibility, about having those difficult conversations and doing something actionable about it. Dr. Nancy agrees and says we all have to learn how to be better. “We can do that in part when we realize that racial and gender bias impacts every aspect of work, and that includes our own path to leadership and how we lead once we get there. We are our own worst enemies because of the biases we have towards other women, and the biases we have towards ourselves. We’ve got these measurements and comparisons, and we need to recognize them and realize, nobody is winning. We need to learn to recognize that we have biases, and we all have them.”

Dr. Nancy also pointed out the fact that it’s really all about relationships. Women build relationships. We are good at it, and we can use this strength to help ourselves and our companies succeed. Study after study shows that when women hold top positions, an organization does better. She said that in order to build relationships that work for all of us, we need to realize that our differences can be challenges, but they can also be opportunities.

“I think that when we talk about how we are different we begin to understand each other better and better and realize that we’re more alike than different. We all want the same things.” Dr. Nancy said. “We also need to remember, no more US and Them. We truly are in this together and that means ALL of us, all colors, races, and our male allies too.”

Dr. Nancy concluded her opening remarks on the topic of support. After all, when we support each other, anything is possible. “This conference is a perfect example of what happens when we support each other.”

“We need to realize that we are ALL in this together and we’ll get there faster when we work together – side by side—to make the world a better place. I think that’s why we’re here is to have better lives and to make it better for other people.”

Dr. Nancy is already making plans to attend next year’s Diversity Women’s Business Leadership Conference, October 7, 8 and 9, 2020, and urges other women to do the same. Attendees will have the chance to spend time with some major players – real leaders who understand just what it takes for organizations of all sizes to be successful as well as discover great opportunities to learn from and share with one another and create new and rewarding relationships. To learn more about Diversity Women and next year’s conference, go to DiversityWoman.com.

 

STRONG. The Magazine for Girls. Changing the Way Girls See Their Futures

“You have to see it to be it.” – Billie Jean King

With two girls in middle school, Sarah Beach noticed a profound lack of resources to help her daughters see what their futures would look like. While Lucy and Daisy are intelligent, energetic, and capable young women, Sarah quickly learned they had set ideas on what their futures would look like. They already thought there were some things they couldn’t really do because they are female. They had absorbed the message that society had been sending them their whole lives that women tend to behave in a certain way, do certain jobs and like certain things.

Lyn Mikel Brown, Ed.D.’89, agrees that middle school is tough, especially for girls. A professor at Colby College and author of several books on female development, Brown says there is a “kind of increased perspective-taking that happens at early adolescence, where girls start to see how others see them and the importance of performing as the right kind of girl.” That means that the confident, spunky, bossy, wonderful girls that they may have been when they were 8, 9, or 10 years old “isn’t okay, and what they thought was true is no longer true.”

In the midst of trying to figure out who they are and the ways to best fit in, girls are often inundated with different types of media that tells them how to appeal to their crush, what to wear, how to wear it, what to eat, where to go, and who to be. Instead of focusing on women and girls breaking barriers or living aspirational lives, many mediums instead are focused on fashion, celebrity news, and body image – all rich with gender stereotypes and shallow, often limiting, depictions of what girls should aspire to be.

In our interview last week, Sarah shared her story, “When we started looking around at magazines for them, we found that they focused on crushes, fashion, and trends,” Sarah said. “My girls have more substance, their friends do too. They can do and be anything. At this age, they don’t know they need role models, but they really do.”

That frustration coupled with the desire to help her daughters reach their full potential led Sarah to found STRONG. The Magazine for Girls. “They deserve to see strong female role models in all walks of life, so they can see that there are women out there who are taking their place in the world alongside men, running businesses and countries, and making the world a better place. They need to see examples of people like them, who have refused to be put in a box by society and who are following their dreams and succeeding,” Sarah wrote on STRONG’s website.

Now in her second year of publication, Sarah provides her girls with the examples they need and opening up a world of possibilities for other young girls nationwide. Her journey hasn’t always been easy, but it has been worth it.

“I had writing experience, but no magazine publishing experience. I launched a Kickstarter campaign, and got to work building an army of supporters.” Sarah said. “While I had to learn a lot right off the bat, I’ve since met some incredible people. I’ve interviewed some amazing girls with positive attitudes, and the journey has really been about talking to and meeting incredible people.”

Shortly after launch, Sarah was also diagnosed with breast cancer, but managed to carry on producing the magazine, almost single handedly, throughout her treatment. “It’s so important to me to get this magazine into the hands of girls around the country. At a time in their lives when they’re really trying to figure out who they are going to be, our girls are currently being bombarded with magazines that feature articles such as ‘What Does His Text Really Mean?’ and ’The Best Summer Swimsuit for Your Body.’ Such magazines can be fun, but they can also be incredibly damaging, and our girls are worth so much more than that. With STRONG, I want all girls to be STRONG enough to be the best version of themselves, and not who society ‘thinks’ they should be. My aim is to represent ALL girls in our pages.”

Sarah has managed to keep STRONG advertisement free, and each issue features news, book, music, and TV reviews, and often focuses on other hard-hitting issues. Each issue is also filled with great role models, ordinary girls doing extraordinary things, and other inspirational content. Regular features include:

Growing Up In – STRONG speaks to girls growing up in different countries.
STRONG Body – A focus on nutrition (healthy recipes) and exercise, and a touch on pertinent topics such as vaping with in-house pediatrician.
STRONG Mind – Issues girls face, from mental illness and depression to dealing with friendships, peer pressure, and divorce.
STRONG Career – STRONG talks to women about their careers and how they got to where they are.
STRONG Skills – A look at everything from self-defense and first aid to time management and budgeting.
Little Miss Fix It – Guidance on fixing a puncture in your bike tire, installing smoke alarms, troubleshooting Wi-Fi, tying knots for every situation, etc.

Sarah has also launched STRONG Ambassadors, a group of 11 exceptional girls to become the magazine’s brand ambassadors. The group meets (via video call) every month and works together to bring ideas to life in their communities–ideas such as drives to end period poverty and events to raise awareness of people with disabilities. STRONG Ambassadors share and replicate ideas and facilitate them as they organize these empowering events.

“I just really believe in STRONG, and want it to become a household name, in every library across the country so every girl can access it,” Sarah said. “My aim is to inspire and empower teens and tweens and help them build a healthy, connected life. We want to help the whole girl. It’s not just a magazine, we want to help these girls grow up confident and be whatever they want to be.”

To learn more about STRONG. The Magazine for Girls. go to www.strongmagazineforgirls.com.

 

The #MeToo Movement Continues to Have an Impact

In the fall of 2017, actress Alyssa Milano responded to published sexual harassment and assault allegations against Harvey Weinstein with a Twitter hashtag that simply said, “#MeToo.” The hashtag quickly went viral and the next day, 609,000 posts followed suit according to Meltwater, which tracks social media impact. What started out as a Tweet quickly became a movement and within a year prominent people across a number of industries were publicly accused of sexual misconduct. The movement exposed a laundry list of accusations against men in powerful positions in media, Hollywood, tech and more. Before long women in every industry and from every country began calling out their assailants, saying, “Enough.” Women no longer felt isolated, and it became clear that these high-profile stories were just the tip of the iceberg. In fact, behind the headlines, hundreds of women and men — in industries across the board – filed their own harassment complaints, called hotlines, and came forward with their stories.

The impact of #MeToo has been undeniable and has not only led to the downfall of powerful people, but also an incredible impact on the workplace. The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission saw about 7,500 harassment complaints filed from October 2017 to September 2018, a 12 percent increase compared to the previous year.

The fight against harassment got a boost from #TimesUp and the National Women’s Law Center. The two groups launched a legal defense fund to provide low-income women with attorney consultations and help with legal fees. According to Emily Martin, a vice president of the National Women’s Law Center, the fund has raised $22 million in donations and assisted 3,500 women and men from all 50 states.

#MeToo Started Long Before the Tweet

Tarana Burke began using #MeToo 11 years before Milano took to Twitter as a way to empower survivors of sexual assault, and the two women actually ended up working together to turn #MeToo into a global phenomenon. Now, Burke has officially established the Me Too Movement as an organization that will  continue to have an impact, whether the hashtag is trending or not.

According to an interview with Business Insider, Burke’s biggest goal this year is “fighting for narrative shift,” which she feels needs to take place with the conversations around abuse and harassment. “We’re still talking about individuals that had acted, and we’re still talking about who can come back to work or not and that kind of stuff, as opposed to talking about all the people who said, ‘Me too.’ What do they need? What are they doing right now? How is their life being affected?”

To answer these questions, Burke says she would like to see more open dialogue in workplaces, which may be easier considering the conversations that were started by the movement. It may also be easier given the number of women who have replaced the men who were forced out. Case in point, by October 2018, 201 powerful men were brought down by #MeToo, and nearly half of their replacements were women.

This dialogue is important. As we wrote in the new book, In This Together, if we are to end sexual harassment and violence, we need to understand what it is, what it is not, and how to combat it. Although most men do not rape or harass women, neither do most men feel a responsibility to stop others from doing so.

That means we need to teach men how to treat women. It is time for women to insist that men share the responsibility when it comes to stopping other men from committing assault and abuse. This is not a women’s problem. It’s a human problem, and that means that all of us need to work together for cultural change.

Sexual Harassment is Still a Real Problem

Burke wants “Me Too” not to be a divisive issue, but a common-sense one — that supports survivors of violence and creates inclusive workplaces. However, a May 2018 poll by Morning Consult shows there is a wide partisan gap in support for the #MeToo movement. By October 2018, that gap had grown.

Meredith Conroy writes that since 2016, Republicans have grown more skeptical of women who report harassment and the motivation behind their claims. However, members of both parties were more likely to acknowledge that sexual harassment of women in the workplace is a problem in the U.S. One explanation for the gap could be that attitudes about gender equality are increasingly correlated with partisan identity.

We need to focus on the fact that sexual harassment is a problem, and collaborate on finding ways to change the status quo. Partisan politics aside – this is an issue that deserves our undivided attention, and we need to work together to correct the system that pits us against each other.

When in Doubt, Speak Out

Oftentimes, women are not sure if what is happening to them actually constitutes harassment. If you are unsure, review the definition of workplace sexual harassment and ask someone you trust outside of your organization. If you or someone you know is subject to harassment, insist that other women listen and offer to help make it stop. We can only eliminate this problem if we all work together.  Let’s transform the #Metoo movement into a positive force that magnifies our respect, consideration, and kind regard for one another–all genders, races, nationalities and religions. Together, we can heal our divisions and make an impact that moves our civilization another giant step forward toward the kind of life we all want to live.

 

Order Dr. Nancy’s New Book Today!

Sexual harassment and gender equality are just a couple of the topics covered in Dr. Nancy’s new book, In This Together: How Successful Women Support Each Other In Work and Life, along with thoughts, inspiration, and stories from 40 successful women.

Order your copy – and gifts for your friends today!

 

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