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Today I want to talk about an issue that is so prevalent in society. Our inability to speak up. This post has been inspired by this year's theme for international women’s day Choose to challenge. If you’re not already doing so, it’s time you begin to speak up. So with this video I’m going to address not only how to speak up against gender inequality but how to speak up in general for yourself, against injustice and when you need to demand more.
The problem with speaking up is that it carries a lot of consequence and as a result people prefer the comfort of silence than the cost of speaking up. In speaking up you could risk exclusion from a group you belong to who may no longer feel you are for them. You could be seen as being difficult - a label we don’t like to wear. You could also risk losing your friends who maybe now no longer see you as being on the same page as them and in some cases you could suffer financial loss.
All of these consequences make it profoundly difficult to speak up even with the best of intentions.
The cost of silence
The real question though is this, is not speaking up an option you can afford? Whether it's not speaking up in your relationship and as a result, you don’t experience the intimacy, connection and support you crave. Or not speaking up at your workplace, during a negotiation or, at the doctor's office when you're concerned about a diagnosis. Is the consequence of not speaking up an outcome you're willing to endure?
When we don’t speak up we permit the unacceptable situation to continue. When we don’t challenge the status quo we allow stereotypes to continue to exist, abuse to flourish and we give power to systems, institutions and ways of being that do not serve us to thrive.
What’s more, the systems that are maintaining status quo and whoever is exercising undue power over you is counting on your silence and fear so they can continue to exist. As a result, they will do everything to keep you silent, because as soon as you or a group of you begin to rattle the cage of limitation that they have confined you to by speaking up and challenging the status quo they will be forced to give up power.
Choosing silence doesn’t serve anyone instead it makes it difficult for you to achieve the results you want and makes it all the more difficult to achieve gender equality.
Here are some steps on how to speak up:
I'm thankful that we don’t live in repressive countries where speaking up could literally cost us our lives and that of our families; nonetheless, I acknowledge that speaking up against any person or institution can bring some real consequences.
So in those moments when you’re tempted to choose the high cost of comfort over what you truly want, ask yourself these questions. Am I important? Do I matter? Am I prepared to continue to live with this situation?
And more importantly, I’m I living true to my values by doing and saying nothing?
As we get ready to celebrate international women’s day, how will you challenge inequality? Not just on this 1 day but everyday? I want you to make use of all the steps outlined earlier, wherever you see inequality, ask yourself, do I want to live in a world where women continue to have less opportunities than men and continue to be treated less than men. Whether that be in the home, at work places or in business.
In addition to the steps above I'll share some of my ideas on how you can choose to challenge:
If you’re the only one with a seat at the table in your organisation, challenge your organisation to adopt diversity in leadership. Follow up on your organisational policies and strategies for recruiting women at the top level. Find out whether your organisation has an active pipeline for developing female employees to get into leadership roles and whether they are supporting women's careers.
If you're a female executive, don't simply be content at being among a handful of women at the top. What are you actively doing to open the door and hold that door open so that as many women as possible can climb up. Are you actively mentoring and sponsoring women? If not, why not consider doing so, this allows the balance of equality to shift in women’s favour. This in turn creates a ripple effect because the more women get into leadership the more women able to hold the door open for other women.
In your homes, are DIY responsibilities only for the boys and are house chores solely for girls. We should at the home level begin to teach equality to our children so that the world they would live in is one where men and women are treated equally and hopefully they'll have no need to fight for equality as we are fighting today.
Your voice is valid and authentic. What you have to say matters. Let's hear it.
Do you have goals and dreams you want to achieve? By becoming the best version of yourself and achieving the success you desire, together we can change the narrative of women. Coaching can help. Book your no-fee discovery call to find out how. You have everything to gain