International Women’s Day is recognised across the globe to celebrate women’s achievements and unite for the sort of equality that still eludes us. This year, the theme is #ChooseToChallenge, encouraging us all to call out gender bias and inequity and challenge the behaviours and societal infrastructure that support it.
We know that the path to change lies in questioning and challenging the status quo. We also know that is not an easy undertaking. There can be great risk, yet also great reward, because with the offering of a different perspective comes the opportunity for consideration and, perhaps, different choices.
Drawing on many of the tools in the Core Confidence book, the following can help us all with embracing the spirit of this year’s IWD theme and #ChooseToChallenge:
– Notice what is at risk and consider your approach. Confidence will come from taking time to clarify the issues and being clear about intent – what are you challenging and why?
– Separate yourself from the issue and don’t get hooked into the tension of right and wrong. Rather than a point scoring exercise, the focus must be on communicating and having your point of view heard and understood.
– Who you are being when you challenge is just as important as what you say. Challenge with compassion and your values in mind.
– Tonality and language are important. The skill of utilising soft language and pitch minimises friction, ensuring discussions are conducted with the intention of elevating thinking and considering different perspectives.
– As hard as it may be, don’t let ego and identity get in the way and become attached to the outcome. Staying unencumbered means discussion remains about the issue and nothing else.
An excellent piece of advice from Catherine Fox, author of Stop Fixing Women, for those men and women who recognise the importance of shifting the current dynamic reads:
“When you are confronted by or see biased, sexist or dismissive behaviour or comments respond calmly with either “What did you mean by that?” or “Would you please repeat that?”. These simple, non-aggressive interventions highlight old patterns that are no longer acceptable.”
We are all responsible for our own thoughts and actions. Mindfully putting these to good use each day and being an advocate for change means we step into our power and design our lives on our own terms.