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IWD23: How to avoid participating in pointless posturing on International Women’s Day

IWD23: How to avoid participating in pointless posturing on International Women’s Day


by Niamh Ennis
06th Mar 2023

Not wanting to mix my metaphors too much, but in the same way you know that a dog is not just for Christmas can I ask that you consider not celebrating women only on International Women’s Day (IWD)?

With this year’s celebration hurtling towards us, on Wednesday, March 8th I believe that this is a hugely important day in the calendar. Yes, it’s shameful that we need one but right now we do and IWD provides an incredible global platform for celebrating women’s achievements, raising awareness about gender inequities, and increasing support for women worldwide. It’s such an important recognition of women’s social, cultural, economic, and political contributions. And who could argue with any of that?

But I want to invite you to contemplate how it is all too easy to jump on a bandwagon, to be ‘seen’ to agree with the collective, to promote the promotable, to make noise without substance and to talk about creating change without ever investing in it or changing any of your behaviours?

Not to point fingers, but so many corporates are hijacking IWD for their own purposes. They hold public events and talk about celebrating their female staff, whilst at the very same time tolerating a culture where men get paid more than women, where women are forced out of their jobs due to maternity discrimination and there is a distinct lack support on areas such as the menopause. This feels a lot like double standards to me and I’m guessing given the choice we would happily forego any of these events for better ongoing treatment in the workplace.

When it comes to us individuals, disappointingly, we are not always much better. I know that there is not one of us reading this who could do better, but I also must admit that I find it increasingly hard to stomach the amount of virtual signalling that takes place around IWD. Please don’t force me to look at another strangled meme along the lines of ‘strong women, may we know them, may we raise them’? It feels increasingly insincere and meaningless. Mostly because it is.

Observe this next week as your social media heaves under an avalanche of gushing posts about just how great we women are. You will likely be able to sniff out the level of competition on Instagram and hear busy minds silently computing on Facebook that it is ‘prudent’ to be seen and heard talking about this significant day, but doing little else to follow up on their empty words.

So, let me ask you this, instead of participating in pointless posturing on International Women’s Day, what if you committed to doing some, or all, of the following. Think about what could happen.

What if you grabbed every opportunity that comes your way to speak up for those women who don’t have a voice? Don’t leave it to others and think someone else will pick up the flack. Get involved by doing what you can and with what you have. Educate yourself on the issues, so that you can in turn, share that information with your own circle. That’s where change begins.

What if you congratulated other women for their achievements. Too often we think someone else’s success means there will be less for us. This is entirely untrue and, in fact, ensures that we stay in the energy of scarcity. Instead cheer for them saying, “good for you, and the same for me!” This is what is so special about the IMAGE Businesswoman of the Year Awards. It’s an incredible opportunity for celebrating the success of women, by women!

What if you celebrated those women in your life who you can see are making a difference but who do it quietly and discreetly. They do it because it matters to them, not for the recognition. What if you acknowledged their efforts and asked how you might assist them to continue their work?

What if you promoted women, you know who are forging change? This does not necessarily need to be change on a large scale, it can refer to any aspect where one woman is helping improve the life of another. By spreading the word and increasing awareness, know that you are helping their work being witnessed and potentially being supported by a wider audience.

What if you stopped and just looked around you? Can you see women who are struggling? Connect with them, offer an ear or a shoulder. Help them progress to the next stage by thinking about what it is you can offer them, that will help them and then do it. They are much closer to you than you think.

What if you stopping gossiping about other women and asked others to do the same? We honestly can’t expect others to champion women if we ourselves don’t. It might feel like a bit of harmless chit-chat but it often represents much more than that. It starts with how you speak about other women and ensuring that when you’re not in the room you won’t be spoken about in a negative way either.

Of course, celebrating other women is also a great reminder to celebrate yourself. You deserve a good pat on the back too, to acknowledge your progress and to witness just how far you’ve come. I would feel fairly confident that you also didn’t do it on your own, and that somewhere along the way another woman provided you with a supportive nudge along the way, which is after all what International Women’s Day is all about. Get ready to shake those pom-poms!

Niamh Ennis is Ireland’s leading Change & Transformation Coach and Author of GET UNSTUCK who through her private practice, writings, programmes, workshops and podcast has inspired, activated and helped thousands of people to make significant changes in their lives. She is an accredited Personal, Leadership & Executive Coach and the Lead Coach in the IMAGE Business Club. Niamh is currently accepting applications for The RESET for Change her 3 Month Bespoke 1-1 Coaching Programme.  Follow her on Instagram at @1niamhennis.