When I was originally asked to deliver a speech at an oil and gas project to 50+ worldwide CEO’S on International Women’s Day initially I was dubious and then I thought why? I asked myself ‘Is it because I will be the minority?’. I then realised this is a great opportunity to reach out to attempt to create gender equality because women need men to advocate for change.
The perception of feminism can be ‘man-hating’ but this is certainly not the case for me. While I do not dig deep into feminism, I do believe in equal rights, especially in the workplace.
Men have been dominating as far as I can remember and at school, I was seen as’ bossy ‘when I wanted to take lead in the sports team. I believe I have the right to have any role a man can have and a freedom of speech.
I believe that females in society deserve the same respect men have, but unfortunately, there is not one country in the world where this continuously happens. Thankfully I have been given the platform to demonstrate freedom of speech, often representing men and women who do not feel they have confidence, self-esteem or respect to speak out.
There I was standing in front of CEO’s (all men) asking them to give other females the opportunity to grow, develop and make a difference. It was a great chance to speak on behalf of females working equally as hard as men but overlooked due to gender.
When I speak to women they often feel they do not get promotions due to a time limit for children or otherwise known as reaching the glass ceiling. Leader’s need to take note, some women choose to prioritise their career path.
In my work, I am also keen to break stereotypes. When addressing stereotyping every day I speak to men who are reluctant to talk about mental health as it makes them ‘less of a man’. Men in the workplace can also be imprisoned by gender stereotypes.
I feel men and women should have the right to be sensitive and in contrast, men and women should have the right to be equally strong.
It shouldn’t take a campaign such as International Women’s day to highlight the gender restrictions, we need to advocate for change on a daily basis.
Stood in front of CEO’s, decision makers and leaders I hoped for commitment to advocate change, break down barriers and promote equality for all. Most of the people in the room had daughters and sons who deserve a future of respect and self-belief regardless of their gender. I am grateful my parents always empowered me to stand up for my beliefs and follow my dreams.
So it’s our doing today that will shape the future of tomorrow.
International Women’s Day Speech – 18 March 2017.
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