Today it’s International Women’s Day! (IWD) It’s not a bank holiday. We don’t generally swap gifts. We don’t plan a special meal at home. There isn’t a religious ceremony to celebrate and we definitely don’t give women across the planet a day off! Normally I host a conference on IWD so I’m usually totally frantic in the run-up to the day and otherwise engaged managing a full house of women on the day itself. This year I decided not to run the conference. The nice thing about this is that I actually do have more time to think about what IWD really means to me. Just because I am not in conference mode, that doesn’t mean I am not going to mark the day and will probably pay even more attention to it because I have the time and space to do so. This year, I am going to stop and pause. In writing this blog post I am thinking just how incredible women actually are.
This photo was taken at the March meet-up by Clare from Clare Gardner Photography. She was using Kath from Grape and Nectars phone. There was raucous laughter because if you know me, I don’t like my photo being taken and I wasn’t being very helpful! I don’t do photos. I am not comfortable with it. I don’t like it. I hide whenever possible! Kath asked for a photo and Clare being a photographer had to step in. I actually love this photo. It shows a bit of my spirit. Thank you Clare for not making me pose in the traditional way!
IWD has been around since the early 1900s. It’s traditionally a day to celebrate the economic, political and social achievements of women past, present and future. I don’t get caught up in politics, that’s just not my thing but the achievements of women definitely are.
So what does IWD actually mean to me?
For me, it’s a day that we celebrate the acts of courage, the determination, the achievements of women in our past, present and future. Some of us are mothers, wives, partners, sisters, aunties, work colleagues, community members, friends. We aren’t defined by any of those things. We are all individual. It doesn’t matter who we are or where we are from. We are all human. We all have things in common and different challenges and struggles to be who we are today.
Today is a day for all women across the planet to raise our hands, use our voices and be proud of who we are.
I am grateful for all the incredible females in my life who support and inspire me. Firstly for my two amazing daughters who teach me new things every day. Even though they drive me crazy most of the time, when I take a step back, I see their rapid and determined development to find their place in the world. I see in them change-makers and trailblazers and strong, competent young women who will make their mark in the generations behind me.
Being a mother and a business owner has taught me more about myself than any other things. They have also been the two and most challenging things I have ever done. Sometimes I am overwhelmed and drown in darkness. These two things sometimes make my mind conspire against me and push me into high levels of anxiety. My adult autistic son pushes me to my limits. But I always manage to get myself back to the surface. I have to find new depths of inner strength which I constantly amaze myself that I even have.
Cakes by Sarah from Poundies Bakes. Sarah is a Maidenhead based cake-maker. She has baked all of my birthday cakes for years. Not only is she brilliant at what she does, Sarah also works tirelessly in the community helping others. If you are Maidenhead based, please check her out.
I’m damn proud of who I am. I’m proud I constantly challenge myself. I’m proud of every failure, challenge and success that has shaped me as a woman. I have met other women who have inner strength beyond measure. Women who are mothers. Women who are not. Women who are business owners. Women who are not. Women who define themselves by character. When we come together to support each other there is nothing we can’t do. Those that don’t do this, simply don’t have a place in my life anymore. I’ve been badly burnt and that’s made me stronger too.
I’m proud that in 2020 we are challenging stereotypes. I’m proud that we are making way for women regardless of colour, creed, sexuality or anything else. I applaud the conversations that we are provoking from mental health to equal pay. From body image to inclusion for everybody. From education to business and politics. There is still a long way to go but I am proud that we are speaking out and driving that change. We need to do more of this.
What does International Women’s Day really mean to me? It means all of the above things. It means this; right now. It means thinking about stuff, writing about it, and ultimately knowing that there are other women around me to support my crazy world, thoughts and challenges. It means no matter what guiding my daughters, my friends and the women in my communities. It means doing what I want to do. It means saying it’s ok to not be ok. It means saying no and standing up to bullies, unkindness or disrespect and disloyalty. It means no matter what being true to myself. It means offering hope to those that need it. It means challenging the status quo. It means sparking the conversations that nobody wants to talk about. It means that when I go quiet, it’s usually because I am dealing with stuff. I’m ok with that. It means if something doesn’t happen or go out on time, it’s because I am doing something from the heart and I don’t want anybody else to do it for me. It means encouraging women to stop hiding and be more visible. It means being a decent and kind person. It means being a good mother, wife and friend. It means having an unfaltering passion for the things that are important to me. It means always acting with integrity regardless of how others treat me. It means doing the right thing every single time. It means showing up even when I don’t feel like it. It means showing tenacity, grit and determination even when things go wrong. It means being comfortable enough in my own skin to post a silly photo of me with IWD cakes as boobs! It means all of these things and more. This is me. The Business Girls Network community has had it’s fair share of ups and downs. What is at the very heart of it is women. Women who show unfaltering support to other women. Women who have a desire and passion to build deep, genuine connections with other women. Women who will put their heads above the paraphet to help another woman out. Women who are passionate about what they do. The heritage and spirit of this community will live on. I am immensely proud of this and all of the women in my personal and business worlds who enable me to be who I am. So today I am going to be proud of the woman that I am and all that I achieve. I hope you will be proud of yourself too.
What does International Women’s Day mean to you?
I asked this question and here are a few of my favourite responses.
Rachel Tyrrell from Cricketers Gin
I do love this quote “Women are the largest untapped reservoir of talent in the world”- Hilary Clinton because it continues to amaze me how many businesses are founded and run by women and I have come across and connected with, over the last 5 years in the Berkshire area alone. I have never left a networking event big or small without feeling motivated and inspired. I really feel that this “reservoir of talent”(not just from a business perspective) is what IWD is all about.
Rachel has been a huge supporter of the biz girls community and has used many biz girls to help her with the launch of her new business. She is going guns and it’s been so exciting to watch! We all of course love gin!
Lizzie Parson from Lizzie Parson Image Consultancy
The chance to stand with women on equality who can’t stand for themselves.
Lizzie is a kind and beautiful woman who goes out of her way to make women look and feel gorgeous. She has always offered support to me and I respect all that she does, especially her passion for sharing her voice on all things mental health.
Wendy Woo from My Mood Stars
IWD means that women are making a huge mark in small businesses. More women than men collected awards from Theo Paphitis at the Small Businesses Sunday award winners’ event.
Wendy is a ‘star’ in every sense of the word. She has built an incredible business helping children and adults to talk about their feelings using her mood stars, including my own autistic son. She is unfaltering in her support of others including me and does this with boundless energy and humour which we all love her for. Wendy recently won the prestigious Theo Paphitis #SBS award.
Vicky Weddell from Money Row Beans
Some people think dates don’t have a meaning, I disagree. They give us a chance to celebrate and appreciate each other. The fact that this is an ‘international’ celebration makes me remember and appreciate the amazing women I have met in my life and on my travels and times living abroad. They inspired me, we supported each other and we shared special memories and experiences together. We may lead very different lives day to day but this day reminds us of what we have in common as women and makes us feel a sense of unity and that we are part of a wider female community.
Not only is Vicky a member of the biz girls community, but she is also my friend. Luckily she makes pretty good coffee and is always there when I need her to be. She is a top woman and a very decent human being and goes out of her way to be there for others. It’s very exciting to watch her business journey. For all things ‘coffee,’ she is definitely your woman!
Lisa Rees from Website Wonder Woman
IWD is a chance for women to come together to celebrate how far they have come to be able to support their families through running their own business whilst also managing a family and other commitments. Whatever men can do we can do better and we should be recognised for it.
Lisa has been my website lady for many years. She digs me out of the techno funk whenever I need her to and is so very patient in the process! She is a Welsh lass and hasn’t stepped foot in Berkshire, despite being the website saviour for many Berkshire ladies! For all your DIY website needs, go and check her out.
Todays #IWD2020 theme is #EachforEqual which pretty much echoes what I have said above. An equal world is an enabled world. Let’s raise awareness against bias. Let’s take action for equality. Let’s help forge a gender-equal world. Let’s celebrate women’s achievements regardless of who they are or where they are from. Let’s do this together.
Wherever you are on the planet, please use your voice more. Be real. Be authentic. I’m rebranding so I can use my voice more. Encourage others to use their voice. Women are and will continue to be change-makers. Let’s do more of this and applaud women when they do.
Today I am going to be spending IWD on the side of a hockey pitch at the beautiful Stowe School, supporting a bunch of 12-year-old girls in a very important hockey competition. Wish them luck! It may well not be a posh conference (that takes me a week to recover from) with a magical vibe and energy fizzing around the room, but I will feel inspired and proud of the woman that I am anyway. I will also be shouting from the sidelines cheering on a bunch of girls determined to do the very best they can. That’s just as important.
Here are the girls winning a prestigious international hockey competition in Barcelona in December last year. It was a tremendous achievement.
Happy happy International Women’s Day to all the female species across the planet, especially the ones that are in my world for whatever reason – you are all bloody magnificent! You are all part of an exciting evolution in paving the way for creating impactful shifts and conversations for women across the world. Let’s do this!