Today is National Women’s Day in South Africa and marks 56 years since 20,000 women marched to the Union Buildings to protest against Apartheid Pass Laws. The women stood in silent protest for 30 minutes and sang a song composed for the day, “Wathint’Abafazi Wathint’imbokodo!” (Now you have touched the women, you have struck a rock). This day was a turning point for South African women and solidified their place in the fight for democracy.
While we celebrate the courage of the amazing women that stood up for the rights of so many, it got me thinking about the challenges that women face today. Many women today are juggling trying to run a household and raising children. These women are subject to intense scrutiny and self-doubt if they choose pursue a career and “have it all”, are they being selfish or are they simply honoring the struggles of generations past? Personally, I don’t believe that there is a right or wrong answer as long as these women are following the path that they feel honors them best.
For those women climbing the career jungle gym (with kids attached or not), many are wandering aimlessly hoping it all fits together somehow. While I may be in a similar situation and am definitely no expert on the matter, these are a few pointers that I’ve picked up along the way:
Choose a mentor – The best way to move forward is to ask someone that’s already been there. Identify someone that you look up to or someone in your space whose work you admire and ask for guidance (this is not a sign of weakness). Also, remember your mentor doesn’t have to be female.
Manage your finances – A lot of women I know (myself included) are really bad at financial management. In fact, most of the women around me are closet rich and it’s time that we started spending a little bit more wisely than this season’s must-haves. Learn how to save and manage investments more carefully. I came across this useful site the other day: www.learnvest.com.
Forgive yourself – We are our biggest critics, however, when I look at my male colleagues, they are a lot more forgiving of themselves. As women, we need to accept that we’ve made a mistake, learn from it and move on. There really is no benefit from continuously beating yourself up about something that can no longer be changed.
Be each others hype (wo)man [because everyone needs a hype (wo)man] – Many women sit back and complain that there are not enough role models for us to look up to and there are numerous articles and blogs that confirm this. While I don’t disagree, I do think that we are unbelievably quick to criticize and judge the women around us, it is up to us to help guide each other and become the role models for generations of woman to come.
Above all, be true to yourself and the best woman that you can be!
“I believe in being strong when everything seems to be going wrong. I believe that happy girls are the prettiest girls. I believe that tomorrow is another day and I believe in miracles.” ~ Audrey Hepburn