Every one of us has a story of transformation you wish you could tell to everybody. It may be about your experiences or about other people who somehow touched your life in an extraordinary way.
Here's a story that changed my perspective on some things:
I met someone who’s covered in tattoos, and whose face was accentuated by ear and nose rings. His hair warned me that nobody is allowed to touch it, or else you’d die of tetany or something more bloody. However, as we exchanged stories, I learned that he’s just like me. We both love how humans can be beautiful despite flaws and awkward idiosyncrasies.
I asked myself, “What is wrong with pieces of metals on one’s body?”
I smiled and remembered my patients. I recalled how many cardiac patients have pacemakers installed inside their chest. I thought of titanium pieces that are used to sculpt destroyed faces after traumatic road accidents. I visualized how those weird-looking screws and silver sockets make up for an amputated foot or a broken arm. They are metals, too. They are body alterations, too. They may not be of personal intent or “just like it” rationale, but how sure are we that people with tattoos and piercings don’t need healing?
"Maybe they use those pieces to heal, too. Maybe the pain they gained from them represents the pain nobody knew they have."
Out of many tattoos he has, a cool and detailed image of a doll on his wrist caught my attention. Quite intrigued and amazed, I asked, “Is that a Russian doll or a cartoon from somewhere I don’t know?”
He instantly answered with a Mexican pitch, “Ya, it’s a Russian doll. Matryoshka.”
I looked at him, then he added, “That’s the favorite toy of my daughter.”
A pause slowed his story.
“She died last year,” he gasped.
“This is hers, too,” he mentioned while pointing at a scarlet gem on his left ear. All at once I was out of words. I didn’t even have the courage to ask about his other stories— those tales of chains, and names, and faces beautifully crafted on his skin. I didn’t have to ask. He tells without saying.
As a nurse who deals with pain on a daily basis, pain unknown and untold always rings red.
And this is just one story.
So somehow this story changed my perspective on how I view people with different styles and preferences. Coming from a traditional family, going out of my comfort zone is not that encouraged. We were always told people with piercings and tattoos are "bad influence." Before you raise your eyebrow, THIS IS NO WAY MY THINKING ANYMORE. What made way? One encounter. One story.
When I shared this story from last year, I omitted a very important detail. YES, I posted this exact story on my Facebook account way, way back. The story doesn't end there. The girl died from rape. I didn't disclose it before because it was a more sensitive topic to discuss than "tattoo preferences." BUT I am sharing this with you so YOU CAN TAKE ACTION ON THINGS THAT TRULY MATTER.
What if I tell you that your voice can CHANGE how society treats WOMEN?
Every person - women, men and non-binary people - can play a part in helping drive better outcomes for women. Through meaningful celebration and targeted bold action, we can all be responsive and responsible leaders in creating a more gender inclusive world. The World Economic Forum predicts the gender gap won't close entirely until 2186. This is too long to wait. So around the world, March is celebrated as Women's History Month to provide an important opportunity for ground breaking action that can truly drive greater change for women.
So here's how YOU can help to shorten the wait:
1. Run your own #BeBoldForChange IWD campaign
One of the most powerful ways you can influence how quickly gender parity is achieved is through championing a #BeBoldForChange campaign within your own organization:
- CALL FOR ACTION: ask friends and colleagues what bold actions the're taking to help drive gender parity (e.g. take a junior woman to a client or sales meeting; challenge organizers of all-male speaking panels; launch a purposeful female-focused initiative; educate boys about stereotypes and violence against women; nominate women for senior jobs; donate time to a female-focused charity; mentor a woman; form a support network; etc)
- DECLARE ACTION: ask friends and colleagues to declare bold action on the IWD website
- DOWNLOAD SELFIE CARDS: use the #BeBoldForChange selfie cards for social media amplification
- DOWNLOAD POSTERS: download the #BeBoldForChange posters and ask colleagues to write or add yellow sticky notes for their bold actions
- EMBED WIDGET: embed the #BeBoldForChange widget on your own website or intranet and call for others to declare their bold action
- THUNDERCLAP YOUR SUPPORT: lend your support via the #BeBoldForChange Thunderclap to help drive wider awareness about gender parity
- WATCH IWD VIDEOS: watch these purposeful videos or broadcast them at events to educate and inspire others
See examples of #BeboldForChange campaigns around the world.
2. Host a #BeBoldForChange IWD event
Coordinating an IWD event? Invite your speaker/s to articulate and explain that exact moment when they themselves took bold action to help improve or develop an aspect of their own livelihood, career or business - or that of another woman's, or women's status overall:
- what was their bold moment?
- how did they do it?
- what motivated them?
- what difference did they make?
- how can others learn from this?
Host a proactive discussion regarding:
- what constitutes "bold" action?
- what conditions are necessary to enable "bold" action?
- what are the consequences of "bold" action?
- what are some examples of "bold" action already taken in your context?
Build a "Bold Actions" wall:
- get colleagues to commit to action
- post their actions on a "Bold Actions" wall
- photograph the "Bold Actions" wall
- share via social media
Ask the audience to declare bold action via their smart phones:
- send your audience to the IWD "Bold Actions" declaration page
- OR use the #BeBoldForChange widget to send the audience to your website's "Bold Actions" declaration page. Show and share results real-time, if desired.
Watch purposeful IWD videos at your event:
- preview which of these phenomenal IWD videos speak most toyour audience, and which ones reinforce and support your own direction
- or contribute your own IWD video for possible inclusion on the IWD website for others to enjoy
3. Social share your support
Social share your bold actions and support by downloading and printing the #BeBoldForChange selfie card. Co-branding is welcome. Promote your support for bold action via social media channels (Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, Youtube, etc) using the "hands in" visual concept.
4. Secure executive statements of support
Submit an approved and authorised #BeBoldForChange statement of support from your leaders (celebrities, corporate chairpersons and CEOs, government officials, charity heads, business and community leaders) - for possible promotion and amplification via the IWD website and social media channel. Statements are short declarations regarding bold action to actively support the advancement of women. Statements may be either straight text (with image), visual collateral, short videos, social media posts, etc). The deadline for Support Statements is ongoing, but received earliest any time from now is preferred. Ideally max. 150 - 200 words for text statements. See an example from Richard Branson's support from last year, or EY global chairman Mark Weinberger's support or Catalyst's president & CEO Deborah Gilles' statement or more here.
5. Download the IWD logo
Download the International Women's Day logo or icon for promoting positive IWD related activity.
6. Embed the #BeBoldForChange widget
Embed the #BeBoldForChange widget on your own website and/or intranet by accessing the embed code and calling for your friends and/or colleagues to declare their bold action.
7. Watch and show IWD videos
Many individuals, groups, companies and associations provide purposeful videos that push the gender agenda conversation further. View IWD's excellent range of video resources that are available to support your own IWD activity. You can also contribute an IWD video for potential inclusion on the IWD website.
8. Access gender diversity resources from leading organizations
Access useful and informative gender diversity resources provided by leading, reputable organizations from across the world that work to advance women. Use these resources to guide your company's journey towards gender parity or submit resources for consideration.
9. Fundraising on IWD
Should you be looking for a registered global charity to donate your International Women's Day fundraising efforts to locally, then please consider IWD's long-term Charity of Choice - WAGGGS. WAGGGS has prepared a Fundraising in the Office activity pack for any employees or businesses which would like to hold a special event to mark IWD. It's full of fun ideas to engage with IWD and raise money for a great cause. Make a single donation to WAGGGS. Set up a fundraiser for WAGGGS at Justgiving or Virgin Giving.
10. Submit coverage of your IWD activity
Submit engaging images, videos or articles that show the success of your IWD activity, with a view to possible promotion and amplification via the IWD website - in addition to your own social sharing of these items.
March is Women's History Month. And even if we're halfway through, our advocacy to reach more people and act with passion to encourage other women won't fade.
The MARCH is still ON.
Click the button below to sign the pledge!