It’s a great time to be a woman. There’s no denying that professional women struggle against a glaring gender pay gap, companies withholding such data, and the roaring flames of sexual harassment scandals. But as these pains come to light, they will quickly become issues of the past. We’re moving forward, and it’s most evident in the achievements and community that women all around us are forging together.
To celebrate these women, International Women’s Day (IWD) has been held annually worldwide on March 8 across the globe for over a century.
IWD is also known as the United Nations (UN) Day for Women’s Rights and International Peace. It ignited in 1909 in honour of women protesting against working conditions in New York City; it was first officially celebrated in 1911 as part of rallies in Austria, Denmark, Germany and Switzerland to build support for women’s suffrage, vocational training, and ending discrimination on the job; and it has even been observed in protest of war. Russian women first observed IWD on the last Sunday of February 1913 to campaign for peace prior to World War I, and it captured Europe’s attention, activating participants wishing to express women’s solidarity and an international desire for peace just a few months before the war began.
We asked, what inspires these women leaders? What makes them tick?
What mantras ring through their minds as they lead others? We called these quotes, “Quotes to Lead By,” to inspire workers and leaders of all demographics.
Our founder, Romanie Thomas, started the campaign in appreciation of her colleagues and fellow women, who have inspired her while starting and growing Juggle:
“In honour of International Women’s Day on March 8, Juggle Jobs is launching a campaign to celebrate inspirational women in business. Each day through the month of March, we will share a “quote to lead by” from a woman leader.
“Recently, I listened to Dolly Alderton’s podcast “Love Stories” where she interviewed journalist and author Bryony Gordon. It was a warm and hilarious exchange between two women who clearly adore and respect one another. I so enjoyed listening to these female voices, celebrating each other’s achievements.
“Every day I benefit from fantastic support from women in my life, and every day I believe the world would benefit from having more of these women to lead and shape our world. This campaign is a thank you to these fantastic women who support, guide, and inspire me through the Juggle journey. Together we will ensure 50% of business leaders are female in ten years.”
While we started our campaign with a handful of colleagues we admire, we asked each participant to nominate another woman leader. The results were phenomenal. Many couldn’t help but nominate three or even five other remarkable women. It caught like wildfire, and we received more nominations than we could accommodate. While we had promised ourselves to profile one women each working day (22 days), we ended up with 36 active participants and countless more, whom we’ll be honouring in future campaigns. We heard from leaders across six different countries in finance, design, business coaching, marketing, PR, publishing, tech, food service, media/entertainment, health/wellness, childcare, and real estate.
Most importantly, our participants helped change the narrative around gender disparity.
We heard bold, vibrant voices talking about their passions and who inspires them — whether it be their grandmother, father, advisor, favourite writer, or aspirational model in work or play. Quotes came from personal mantras, family members and friends, classic fictional characters, famous entrepreneurs, cultural influencers, historical thought leaders, and women leaders who in their era were forced to use male aliases in order to work. Popular quotes among the campaign’s followers included:
We should stop defining each other by what we are not and start defining ourselves by who we are. ~ Emma Watson
Fear, to a great extent, is born of a story we tell ourselves, and so I chose to tell myself a different story. ~ Cheryl Strayed⠀
Find opportunity in the taboo. You’ll fight harder battles, but each breakthrough will be so much more rewarding. ~ Stephanie Alys
What was most striking was the resounding theme of growth
Many women leaders revealed an obstacle of belief, either internal or external, that encouraged them to mature personally and professionally. Our participants have created their success with compassion towards themselves and towards others, knowing that they cannot always change external circumstances but that they can change how they approach those circumstances. We learned how valuable and empowering this increased visibility — shining a light on women leaders and providing potential models — is for people of all genders, even among our participants.
And we learned how essential this visibility is to building a future in which we can all thrive.
As our founder, Romanie Thomas, likes to say,
“It always seems impossible until it’s DONE.” – Nelson Mandela