Wednesday, 8 March 2017

International Women’s Day 8th of March 2017

Today I had the honour of joining 200+ highly successful women in Berlin to celebrate International Women’s Day in an event organised by Omnicom Women #OmniwomenGermany The opportunity to be at a global event where women support and encourage other women is something that I particularly feel excited to be part of.

It’s part of an immense week of celebrations where I also got to join ‘Women in Wearables’ on a panel discussion at the Wearable Tech Show at the Excel in London and also speak at WIRED Health at their annual conference. At a time where only 9% of medtech founders are female I take tremendous amount of pride and honour in flying the flag for women and girls in STEM.

I know so many amazing women that I want the world to see, but I must shout out especially for the mothers of children with rare disease - they are courageous beyond belief. 

I always feel extremely privileged to be given the opportunity to share my personal story or professional work because I appreciate that it is not an opportunity given to everyone. I also love the opportunity to hear about other people’s stories and experiences. It propels me forward to do more and push further in whatever I’m working on at that time, personal or professional. Hearing other women’s stories of overcoming adversities and achieving success is so uplifting that I can’t stop celebrating every woman’s individual success.

Sometime when I admire other women’s achievements a little bit of the green eyed monster does creep out, where I wonder “how would it feel to do that?”. But not with a jealousy that makes me think “I wish it was me not them” – only in the “WOW! How cool is that!”.

I don’t see it as fewer opportunities for me.  It’s certainly not a pie with only limited pieces to go around.

International Women’s Day always makes me stop, pause and reflect of how I feel as a woman in society today. How I see women’s role in society and which female role models do I see around me. This time to reflect also makes me wonder how we as women treat each other.

Thankfully I have a strong enough personality not to have ever experienced being bullied in my life. However I have at times gone to sleep with tears in my eyes over the way that other women have treated me. It has been women (never men) that have slut shamed me; it has been women (never men) that have ignored me or excluded me in social circumstances, and women (never men) that have played the silence game with me.

Yes, I’ve had men comment on my body, my looks, and my appearance in a way that objectifies me. But never in a way that has excluded me from conversations or excluded me from opportunities. 

We can never expect to like all the people that we come across in life. But to be purposefully rude or hurtful or insulting to someone for no reason other than the fact you don’t like him or her to me is beyond comprehension to me. I also accept that my personality is Marmite like, people either love me or hate me. But like every other single human being on the planet, regardless of gender, sexual orientation, ethnicity or religious believes all that I ask is that I am treated politely and with respect. It is always how I try to treat others and I can never comprehend in today’s troubled world where hate is emerging as an accepted norm, why this can’t be considered acceptable.

Yes, I am opinionated. But I also seek to hear other people’s view - to try to understand where they come from. At the event today a German police officer with extensive experience and knowledge in negotiating people out of hijacking situation talked about the value of negotiating skills. He specifically talked about negotiating in the Trump era, where confrontation and competition is the norm. Is the rule! I struggled to accept that we must act and behave in the same way as the person that we’re negotiating with, but could understand that to walk away is to loose out completely.  

Women are just not conditioned to treat competition and conflict in the love it and live with it way that is a norm for many leading male figures in today’s society. And sometimes I feel that we should push to create a different basis for negotiation rather than join the table to negotiate on those terms. But not being at the table is to give-in before the negotiation starts even.

Maybe it’s a coincidence that on IWD this year I’m in German where Merkel is one of the leading female politician that I have complete respect for the way that she has conducted herself.  I know that being here today, amongst so many inspirational women that genuinely want to see other women succeed along side them was just the remedy that I needed at a time where I’ve been challenged to see the good in people. As always I’ll continue to do the best that I can, in the way that works for me.

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