Finding Your Voice on International Women’s Day

women's day Each year at this time, we celebrate the progress toward equality for women, reflect on the challenges and barriers that remain, and consider future steps to achieving equality for all women, in all aspects of their lives. As we celebrate International Women’s Day on March 8th there is much to celebrate, recognizing the many accomplishments of Canadian women past and present yet there are still many challenges and full equality the world over has not been achieved.

Hilary Clinton spoke a number of years ago that, “Unfortunately the most common language spoken by women in many parts of the world is silence.” This statement is profoundly sad and unfortunately true. We as women must all band together to help women all over the globe find their voices. In Western society, we have many more opportunities to voice our opinions freely so I find it interesting when I hear how often women will not speak up.

I recently saw a study that revealed how much more often men speak up in a university lecture than women. I think as women we go over and over what we are going to say or the question we are going to ask in our heads to make sure that it is not a stupid question, or that we can state it clearly and precisely. Well by the time we process all of this, battle our internal critic and get up the nerve to speak up somebody else has already asked the question. The men just throw up their hands and ask without the internal analysis. They speak their mind, get their ideas out there and don’t worry as much what everyone else thinks. I cannot tell you how many times I have been at a seminar or lecture had what was a great question and spent so much time going over and over it in my head that someone else asked the question. And often it was followed by the comment “what a great question”. Why didn’t I just ask it? What was I afraid of?

I understand that for many women (and men for that matter) speaking up can be daunting. But to lead you must be heard. Nobody can read the great ideas you have from your mind. You must have presence. You must put yourself out there. So in celebration of International Women’s Day and for the sake of all those women who can’t speak up in other areas of the world, start working on this today.

Finding Your Voice
To find your voice take it step by step. You can learn to speak up for what you want. Practice in small ways. Ask for a particular seat in a restaurant or a discount on an item you might be purchasing. Then when you are at a business meeting or seminar practice by voicing your opinion or asking a question. Make it your mandate to speak up and be heard. Grab the courage to speak up and you will not only place yourself in the path of opportunities you will gain confidence that will enable you to truly find your voice and impact the world.

Happy International Women’s Day.

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