With March being Women’s History Month and today being International Women’s Day, I’ve been thinking a lot about the most inspirational women in my life. And in my thinking, I started to realize how difficult this task was, having to choose. I’m gratefully aware of how blessed I’ve been to have quite a few inspirational women in my life – from teachers to colleagues to family to friends – and that’s just the ones I’ve been lucky enough to know personally. But then there are the poets and singers and authors and activists who have inspired me just the same but whom I’ve never met before.
Read more: 57 Inspirational Quotes By Strong Women
These important women have inspired me to believe in myself, to chase my wildest dreams, and to do good along the way. These women have made me better today. These women have impacted me personally but have also contributed to making this world a better place by promoting equality through their own large-scale activism or by raising their children to do the same (thanks mom!). All these women had one thing in common – they chose to challenge.
How to challenge?
When we #choosetochallenge something, we shine a bright light on it for the world to see. We build awareness. We advocate for change. We live our lives in a way that embraces and promotes justice for all. We all do our part. How will you do yours?
Here are some ways we can all choose to challenge gender inequality in our world:
#1 – Question
I remember learning about the power of “why” – this three-letter word with a force strong enough to move mountains. I first really got to know this word when I started to work on my own negative self-talk. One of the ways that helped me stop my negative thinking train was by questioning the negative thought itself. Thought = I’m not worthy of love. Question = why? I would ask again and again. And you know what happened? This question, as simple as it seemed, eventually helped me notice these dark thoughts, helped me to see how irrational they were and helped me learn to think in new, healthier ways. In other words, this ‘why’ word challenged my thinking.
And we can apply this same questioning towards the gender inequalities we face. Each and every time we are treated less than because of our gender, we need to ask why. Each and every time we witness someone else being treated less than because of their gender. We need to ask why. To our family members, colleagues, friends over social media, politicians – we need to ask and ask and ask.
We need to question these inequalities and do so loudly. To never be silenced. Why? Why? Why? There’s power in questioning, it brings with it awareness, pause, reflection, and that’s one way to challenge gender bias.
#2 – Act
We challenge society’s biases by actively participating in making change.
- We can shop from female-led brands,
- we can write letters to our local politicians seeking more access to childcare so that we can have equal opportunities in the workforce,
- we can speak to our universities about the need for greater safety measures on our school campuses,
- we can vote for leaders that believe in fair and equal policies,
- we can take to the streets and protest against violence,
- we can sign online petitions, and the list goes on.
And we can also be supportive of other women – at work, at school, online by being kind, offering a helping hand, empowering them, and advocating for their achievements.
The doing part of challenging is so important, and there’s something that we can all do to challenge gender inequality.
#3 – Celebrate
We can challenge gender biases by bringing to light and celebrating all the incredible achievements women have had – in our personal lives and on a worldwide scale. Taking days like today, and months like these, to reflect on the women who have paved the way for us and those that continue to knock down barriers today and to refocus on what more we can do – this is how we challenge, by taking these moments to continue to be inspired by their work.
We can celebrate the women in our lives – our family members and friends – and tell them how much they inspire us. We can have conversations with the men in our lives about the women we celebrate and why they mean so much. Celebrating leads to dialogue, and dialogue leads to change.
Celebrating allows for teachable moments. Most importantly, celebrating helps us to never forget, and that’s how we continue to challenge gender inequality.
Happy International Women’s Day, my friends!