International Women's Day 2018

A message from Ainsley

I always wake up with mixed feelings on International Women’s Day.

Gratitude – when I asked my 4 year old daughter what she wants to be when she grows up and she said “A Mum and a Fire Fighter… no no actually… A Mum and a Cow Girl!”. Both said with such reverence. I felt grateful that somehow in my crazy life of running a business and trying to prioritise her I managed to convey the importance of both being a mum and having a career if that is what you want.

Pride – when I caught my husband having a quiet conversation with my daughter this morning. Something had happened the day before and he was reminding her that “she is her own person and should do what she thinks is right, and that she owns herself”. I remember my dad saying something similar to me.

Impressed – when I see photo’s and hear stories from my mum about the work that she and prior generations did to fight for the rights that we enjoy. When I hear of the real risks that people take every day around the world to achieve base level equality..

Strength – when I thought about the many ways that our business Think Talent and our amazing female networks have supported each other this year to thrive in business. A topic I am talking about at an International Women’s Day event today hosted by the Yarra City Council.

And unfortunately….

Intense Worry – that my daughter, whilst full of hope now, may not be able to achieve her dreams if we don’t continue paving the way. That women and girls all over the world don’t have control over their lives, let alone their bodies. That I will become complacent and forget to keep forging ahead.

So, I write this piece to remind myself to be thankful but importantly to keep advocating for the rights of other women, myself and my daughter who will inherit what we leave behind.

Happy International Women’s Day to all you amazing women out there!

Celebrate, Keep Advocating & Stay Vigilant!

 

A message from Natalie

Another year has passed, it feels like only yesterday I wrote about IWD and how far we have come – and also how far we need to go.

The last 12 months has been huge for me not only professionally, but also personally. I have had some amazing moments of triumph and also some moments that have shook the very core of who I am and made me self-reflect on my life and the decisions I have made.

It’s amazing what a life changing event will do for your perspective. My experience put into laser sharp focus my role as a Mum, those two little girls who need me and how hard it is to find the right balance in life and work – a challenge we all face (men and women). I asked myself “do I have the balance right?” 

I have had so many conversations over the last year about “balance” and how I do what I do. How do I raise two kids, run and grow a business and still find time for everything else in my life? Some have even used the words “super woman” and I laugh out loud because those people don’t see what goes on behind closed doors and my many many flaws (just ask my husband!). 

Jacinda Ardern has been in the news a lot lately because she is the first female prime minister president to announce a pregnancy whilst in office. Jacinda is amazing, she is 37 years old and an inspiration to young people everywhere about what is possible. She has defied the rules, the odds, the norms around what it takes to be a leader. She is genuine, smart and authentic. Suffice to say I have a girl crush. Recently Jacinda announced she is having a baby and people everywhere have questioned her ability to be a mother whilst sitting at the helm of New Zealand. 

It amazes me that in 2018 we are still having these conversations. I am confident that if it was a male Prime Minister making this announcement there wouldn’t be these questions about his ability to run the country– why is that? Because overwhelmingly there is still an innate belief, an unconscious bias about the role of a woman in the household – particularly once she has had kids and I believe this starts at a very young age. Jacinda has explained (not that she needs to) that her partner will be a stay at home Dad, but still the judgement comes. We have to stop and ask ourselves why her decisions are any of our business.

I talk to my girls openly about why I work – usually because they are asking me as I am trying to fly out the door “why do you have to go to work today?” So I tell them with honesty: “because we need Mummy’s income to pay the mortgage, to buy nice things, to have holidays”. But then I hold their tiny faces and look into their big green eyes and say “ but mostly, because Mummy loves working. And you should always do what you love. And I love both of you and being a Mummy which is why I am so excited to get home to see you”. 

I believe we should never be afraid to be honest to our kids that our lives don’t always revolve around them. 

I like working. Shocking, I know – but I love the buzz, the pace, the interactions I get at work. That’s not to say I don’t love being a Mum – of course I do. My hurt bursts with pride every time I see them. But personally I don’t need to stay at home full-time to enjoy my role as a mother.

My eldest (Miss 4.5) has evolved since I wrote my blog last year. Now instead of being a storm trooper when she is older she wants to be a police officer so she can “catch the bad guys and take them to jail”. I love that her innocent mind knows no prejudice yet, no boundaries. Her gender has zero impact on what she thinks she can do and be and we have role models like Jacinda to thank for that. I read my girls stories from the book “good-night stories for rebel girls” every day so we can celebrate the women who paved the way for us on what is possible. And we need to continue to pave the way and create more role models so our girls can aspire to be whoever they want. 

Miss 4.5’s favourite outfit is grey trackpant shorts that come to her knee, a grey t-shirt with a green dinosaur coming out of the pocket and her black nikes, preferably worn with blue socks pulled up. She looks so cool with her wild blonde curly hair as she runs around. She picked that outfit – from the boys section at Cotton On. In fact many of her clothes are from the boys section. I think this is part of a big problem in that we define ‘boys and ‘girls’ clothes – girls wear pink and dresses and glitter and boys wear dinosaurs and blue. I believe it has to stop because it creates expectation and division at such a young age. The same is true of toys – pink kitchens and prams for girls, dinosaurs and trucks for boys. I let my girls pick their clothes and toys and if they are from the boys or girls section that is fine with me because they are who they are and that’s wonderful.

So back to my question - do I have the right balance? My life-changing event hasn’t changed any of my fundamental beliefs and it hasn’t made me want to make any major changes in my life. It has made me appreciate everything I have and everything I believe in. It’s made me grateful to my Mum for shaping me into a determined, independent and strong female and I want to continue to use my voice to advocate for what I believe in. Fairness. Equality. 

To stop judging females everywhere on the decisions they make in their own lives. 

The one change I have started to make is to slow down and appreciate the small moments. I might want to conquer the world but I don’t have to conquer it today.