Currently I am working on the Persuasive Influence Pathway. This path helps you build your skills as an innovative communicator and leader. My current project is Research and Present. This project addresses strategies for selecting a topic, suggestions for research and methods for producing a well-organized speech. Since my speech was on the last of March and our theme was Choose to Challenge, I decided to do research on International Women’s Day.
Here’s my speech:
Nine years ago, on International Women’s Day, I was working at a software company as a Business Analyst. I was the only woman on the team with 8 other members. Being the only woman on the team, it seemed that I got special treatment that day and my colleagues all wished me a Happy International Women’s Day.
The support from my coworkers was great. I felt ready to take on the world! I had been working on some new ideas for weeks and I was planning to present them to our CEO. I was excited and nervous.
At the end of the day, I approached my manager and discussed my ideas with him. I presented my ideas clearly and concisely. He liked what he heard, and he asked me to share my presentation with him. I was excited! Then he then said that someone else on the team would present my ideas. I was furious!! I had been working on these ideas for months and suddenly someone else was going to present them!
I tried to confront my manager and he replied, “you already got great treatment today on International Women’s Day. What else do you need? Let the guys on the team also shine!”
His comment took all of the wind out of me. I felt insignificant and all alone. I was furious but my appraisal was coming soon, so I was afraid to confront him and demand that I get the chance to present my own ideas.
It made me think about International Women’s Day, and why is it celebrated?
International Women’s Day is more than just a day to celebrate women and thank them for being part of the team, like my coworkers did. It is also a day to recognize the inequalities that still exist in the workplace, in education, in business and in government.
International Women’s Day was first celebrated in 1909 to both celebrate the achievement of women world-wide and to call for action to improve the lives of women and accelerate gender parity.
The International Women’s Day website has detailed information on the history of International Women’s Day and the current supporters of this day to celebrate women’s achievements, raise awareness about women’s equity, lobby for gender equity and fund-raise for female-focused charities.
This year’s theme is Choose to Challenge! The IWD website has a gallery of photographs and testimonials from men and women all over the world who choose to challenge and call out inequality.
Do you know what the first theme was and when it started?
- The first was in 1996 with the theme “Celebrating the past, Planning for the Future”,
- in 1997- Women at the Peace Table”,
- in 1998 with “Women and Human Rights”, and
- in 1999 with “World Free of Violence Against Women”
After celebrating the achievements of women and fighting for the rights of women for all these decades, where are we today? Have we achieved gender parity? Have we achieved a violence free world for women and children? Have we achieved the goal of education for all girls?
Some facts from UNWomen a United Nations website dedicated for gender equality and the empowerment of women:
- Women make up 25 percent of parliamentarians globally, and only three countries have 50 per cent or more women in parliament.
- Women make up only 13 percent of negotiators, 6 percent of mediators, and 6 percent of signatories in formal peace processes.
- In 2020, only 7.4 per cent of Fortune 500 companies in the United States were run by women.
I know we are moving toward the goal of gender equality, but it is still far. A Journey of 1000 miles starts with one step. We have taken many…. but there are still many. If we join together and support each other we can achieve this goal.
I realize the mistake I made with the incident with my manager — I stayed quiet. I was fearful of the consequences. Now I have learned that in a situation like this I should have shared with my manager what I observed, what I felt about what he said, what my need for recognition of efforts was. Speak up for your rights. If you cannot speak up for yourself, you cannot speak up for others! So Speak Up!
I learned a lot during my research about the International Women’s Day celebration and its history. We have many more interesting speeches and workshops. Come to our next meeting on April 14th, 7-8:15pm PDT. Theme: Effective Women Leaders. Register here.
Written by Khushboo Shah, VP PR of Women L.E.A.D. Toastmasters