As a Russian woman, International Women’s Day has always had an important place in my heart. After all, it is a national holiday when school is out and the entire country turns into a floral greenhouse and guys are nice to you for a full day – think Valentine’s day sans reciprocation of effort!
It is only when I moved to the US that I realized that, for the majority of the Western World, International Women’s Day actually serves as a day to not only celebrate the contribution of women to society but also push for important and relevant agendas, aiming to drive change towards a more gender inclusive world. (Little known fact: while Russia is hardly an example of gender equality, Russian women have officially had equal rights since the October Revolution. So let’s forgive them for skipping their routine tribulations for just one day to – literally – smell the roses.)
With the 2017 agenda being BE BOLD FOR CHANGE, I decided to ask 8 phenomenal women (and a slightly more mediocre moi) the following question:
What changes would you like to see for women in this world? How are you planning on contributing?
Here’s what they had to say!
This might not be the answer you’re looking for during a time when there is a lot of talk about equality for women regarding pay and work. But I am more interested in little women and the changes I want to see for them. Many young girls lack confidence and this has to change. Little women become big women so people need to start thinking about what can be done early. A recent article in CNN and Science Magazine reported that studies revealed that from a young age girls believe that boys are smarter. This is outrageous! According to the study this belief influences their interests and career choices, and in my opinion affects their confidence. I am currently working on putting together a workshop with different experts and activities to remind our young girls they are loved, amazing, beautiful, and smart. (Read more about Ajiri here!)
Ajiri’s daughter Noomi leading the way
Marina Khorosh, idiot savant, @dbagdating
I want to see young girls growing up with healthy body image. As much as I acknowledge youthful angst to be a mandatory stepping stone, it breaks my heart to see teen girls equating their self-worth to the number on the scale or on the clothing tag. I don’t think people realize the impact these issues have on women’s lives – the way they conduct themselves in relationships, the confidence they have to speak up for themselves, the choices they ultimately make.
We all share the responsibility for driving this change – from brands embracing different body types, to the media opening up honest conversations, to mothers being both smart and sensitive about how they educate their daughters. I remember seeing Myla Dalbesio’s Calvin Klein campaign and thinking: Had I seen this as a teen, instead of lingerie models with perturbing hipbones, maybe I would have been less hard on myself. Had somebody I looked up to shared their story, maybe I would have felt less alone.
I will contribute by being more open to my own story and my struggles.
Myla for Calvin
Julia Reiss, writer, @thereisspiece
I’d like to see more women supporting one another, instead of tearing each other down. We all are having a “rough” political moment (to put it lightly), and it’s very easy to fall into the trap of polarization and blaming one another for our mutually held losses, especially when we don’t agree on everything single thing. But people can’t respect us if we don’t respect each other.
I’d also like to see more politically active and outspoken women in general. We’ve made such progress on that front, it’s important we don’t lose steam. I believe that choice is a function of equality, so I guess at the end of the day, I would like to see women have more options– whether it’s having the ability to choose when she wants to become a mother or access to an education. Also, I wish every woman a comfortable pair of fabulous shoes.
I’d like to see women realize and stand up for their worth. It’s something most men have no difficulty in asserting, whereas women tend not to have the same confidence and self-belief.
On a personal and professional level, I plan on contributing by asking for what I deserve and not accepting anything less. On a wider level, by supporting those who are taking a stand and showing that women can’t be dismissed. There’s so much importance in women supporting each other.
A recurring theme I have noticed, especially during this most recent epoch of political turbulence – and I refer to this in both the American and Canadian context – is the degree to which some women lack confidence in both their understanding of world issues and their ability to freely and openly discuss their opinions.
Wading through enormous amounts of information and finding objective dialogue can be incredibly daunting. When conversation turns political, I have noticed some women hesitate to speak up or tend to affirm that they “have no interest in these issues, as they do not apply directly to me”. I also notice that many women’s opinions closely mirror those percolating through social media, even though they are unable to discus why they agree with that particular movement. In my opinion, civil rights movements are a wonderful thing however, it is important they do not infringe on the ability of others to engage in free and opposing speech.
My thoughts: cultivate an informed opinion, have a voice, and be confident in that voice. I would like to see a confidence movement for women in this world and by ensuring I keep current, stay informed, actively question, and respectfully discuss opinion differences, I feel I am playing a small but important role in hopefully achieving this.
I would like to see a rise in female artists having major exhibitions around the world and I plan on contributing to this aspiration by continuing to promote the work of female emerging artists by making films about their work, publishing interviews and hosting talks with them in both London and New York.
Flora filming an Arteviste film with artist Milla Eastwood
I am driven by the thought of a day when there has been enough change to feel that there is no barrier between any gender, or in fact or human race. Humans alike to be one, and instead measured and accepted based on our capabilities, passions, personalities, and beliefs. The conversations that are currently happening become void and unnecessary and the focus is on bettering the world together, as one unit – humanity.
For this to happen, these conversations need to continue, the voices need to be heard and actions need to be taken. I am going to continue to be a part of this by contributing my voice, thoughts and actions and to stand together with all the strong women around the world to wipe out inequality entirely.
What do YOU want to change? Submit your #BeBoldForChange action via the IWD website!