International Women’s Day – Equality is Everyone’s Fight

By: Ashley Jones

As PR and communications professionals, we find ourselves in a unique position. Our careers are quite literally revolved around creating narratives and championing positive messaging. Today, we’re channeling our power to share the importance of female mentorship, female empowerment and the need for female voices, opinions and perspectives.

Feminism.

It’s a term individuals are often torn by. It’s negatively connotated far too often, falsely believed to be based on spreading a female-only agenda not inclusive of our male counterparts but against them.

In her 2014 UN speech, Emma Watson eloquently clarified the meaning, stating, “Feminism, by definition, is the belief that men and women should have equal rights and opportunities. It is the theory of the political, economic and social equality of the sexes.”

Despite making terrific strides in recent years toward this equality, women still earn $10,169 less per year than men in median earnings. And although both men and women believe in the need for females in leadership positions, 66 percent believe that there still is an inadequate representation of women in leadership roles in their organization.

I can personally say I struggled for a long time in terms of considering myself a feminist. I was ignorant to the global issues. I grew up in a loving, accepting environment where my mother was the breadwinner, my father was the “maternal” parent who took care of cooking and cleaning, my brother had a sense of fashion that I could never dream of imitating and I was always a “tomboy.” I was never silenced, both of my parents equally built my confidence and challenged me to do my best. I was never told I couldn’t do something because I was a girl. So how was gender inequality a problem? How was it my problem if I wasn’t directly affected?

Attending Carlow University, a dominantly female college, I soon realized that my upbringing was incredibly lucky and, unfortunately, not every female’s norm. Women are globally still in a constant battle for equality in the workplace, equality in compensation and the rights to their own bodies. I realized that being a feminist meant I didn’t agree with or support these disparities. Being a feminist meant I was thinking outside of myself. It meant being the voice for the women who don’t have one.

Female Support and Mentorship

As we continue to move forward in our careers, we commemorate the women who have built us up and driven us forward with their wisdom and support.

“If I didn’t have mentors I would not be where I am today. They paved the way for me to raise my standards and achieve my ambitions along with confidence and support. Having a mentorship is special; they give you advice and wisdom you wouldn’t get anywhere else.” – Kristen Hammett

“Women have not only begun to find their place but have risen above the stigmas and changed history. We are leading and breaking through and bringing so much to the table – working in respect of the women who went before us, who were not enabled the capabilities and voice we have today. From women of difference races and ethnicities who would normally not be permitted to show their strengths and opinions, to women being those in authority to make the call, we are shining through now, more than ever.” – Jesse Serra

“I’m a firm believer that empowered women empower women. I’m incredibly grateful to the female leaders in my life who took—and still take—the time, energy and commitment to help me grow both personally and professionally. And it’s up to all of us to continue to create that kind of impact for women everywhere.” – Catherine Clements

“When I was four years old, I befriended my next-door neighbor, Bree, who became like an older sister to me. She taught me everything — how to tie my shoes, how to write cursive, how to play the flute, how to tumble (for cheerleading and gymnastics). She had many talents, including being a straight-A student with career aspirations to become an engineer (which she achieved)! She inspired me to be the best I could be at school, in cheerleading and gymnastics and overall as a person. I believe because of her influence it motivated me to be a hard worker (and a perfectionist) — some qualities that PR professionals need to succeed.” – Robin Rectenwald

“After 15+ years in PR, I’ve worked with a lot of women, many of whom were not only extraordinarily talented, but also extraordinarily patient…with me. Jacque Myers taught me that women face struggles in the workplace that I had never previously considered. Tracy Freedman showed me the value of having a woman’s perspective in the work that I do. Christiana Basso taught me how much differently women are often treated by their colleagues. Meredith Klein taught me how much words can mean and the impact they can have on the women around me, even if no one explicitly says it to me (she always did). And there are so so so many other women I’m thankful for having met and worked with and became friends with who have all impacted my life in some amazingly positive ways. And of course, my wife, Jamie, has always been there to remind me to listen to these amazing women (and to her) because without them, I wouldn’t be where I am today.”  Steve Radick 

“I have always been blessed to have strong women surrounding me my entire life. From my mother and sister, to the friends and various women I have worked with who have shown me that women are as much a force in the workplace as men. Because of these strong influences, I have felt empowered to be the very best I can be in my field throughout my entire career. For these women, I am eternally grateful.”  Camille Downing

“The connections I have with women who are 10, 15, 30 years into their careers have been pivotal to me during my 20s — moreso than I could have expected. Seeing and observing these women making the moves I want to make (or don’t want to make) has helped me look critically at my own decisions and assures me I’m not the first one working through the evolving challenges women encounter with social dynamics and work/life/health balance. My female mentors have pushed me — not just through telling, but showing — to recognize my strengths, build from my weaknesses, and work towards being a smarter, more well-rounded navigator of my own life and career.” – Kaili Doud

Thank you to the strong women who fought before us and the strong women today who are continuing the fight.

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