The theme being highlighted this year for International Women’s Day 2020 is “an equal world is an enabled world.” What a powerful way to mark this year’s global celebration of the resilience and achievements of women. It gives me pause to reflect and honour the influential women in my life that have paved the way for me to grow and develop into the strong woman and leader I am today.
When I sift through my memories, my earliest ones in the later 60s to now, I see the remarkable shift that has been happening. The seeds planted well before my time but like most change, starting with the few before the many take up the banner. Now I see it is an ever-expanding and enabled collective instead of the exception. It’s been an honour to watch and be a part of women standing up for their rights and the rights of others inequality.
I’ve been fortunate to have strong female parental role models early in my life. My grandmothers, mother, stepmother and my mothers-in-law—the plural in mothers-in-law are important, as both my husband and I come from families that were stigmatized and labelled as broken.
These women all have something in common, they have overcome significant hardship and have had to stand their ground for their equal place in this world. This spans from stealing potato skins from German soldiers to feed family in the Netherlands during WWII to sexual and physical abuse from strangers and supposed loved ones, to forging their path and leaving their home as a young teen, to single parenting when it was highly stigmatized, to demanding equality in male-dominated industries—and in all that, there is more…so much more there is no way I can do it justice in a mere blog article, they rose above it.
They rose above it and paved the way for unity in equality for all, no matter how one gender identifies oneself. They did it through open-mindedness, tenacity, challenging biases, and forging on, despite nearly insurmountable conditions. On the way, they’ve inspired as well as encountered people with the same beliefs. They held each other up and moved each other forward. In the words of the International Women’s Day 2020 theme, they had the foresight to see “an equal world is an enabled word”. I have immense gratitude to these women of my life, and to all of the people that have and continue to fight for equality.
The women and the work of others have helped shape me into the person I am today. A person that has had opportunities because of them. A person that has had her hardships but has risen above them. A person that now lives with and loves a true partner, raising our child with the same beliefs. In the spirit of International Women’s Day 2020, I’m gifting you this chapter from the book Shine: Inspiration Stories of Choosing Success Over Adversity. It’s part of a larger group of other fabulous women that have soared to success in the face of diversity. I am honoured, blessed and humbled to have been included with. Enjoy the read!
Let’s all be #EachforEqual,
Michele Devlin, CEO/CCO, MacDev Financial