Happy International Women’s Day: How a March Along the Mediterranean Amplified “Girls Can Do Anything!" by Elisa Schmitz
Happy International Women’s Day! We all know that women make an impact on the world every single day. Unfortunately, however, women’s contributions often go unnoticed or unrecognized. That’s why we celebrate International Women’s Day on March 8, a “global day celebrating the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women. The day also marks a call to action for accelerating women's equality,” according to the International Women’s Day (IWD) website.
The first IWD gathering in 1911 was supported by more than one million people. Today, IWD is for everyone, everywhere. “Imagine a gender equal world. A world free of bias, stereotypes and discrimination. A world that's diverse, equitable and inclusive. A world where difference is valued and celebrated. Together we can forge women's equality.”
Celebrating women's achievements, while calling out inequality, is key to elevating women and girls everywhere. Gender equity is the goal of IWD’s 2023 #EmbraceEquity campaign, which strives to get people talking about why equal opportunities aren't enough. “People start from different places, so true inclusion and belonging require equitable action.”
Taking action toward a more diverse, inclusive and balanced world takes many forms. I was fortunate to be able to participate in an International Women’s Day event in Barcelona in 2019. In honor of girls and women around the world, I joined this march along the Mediterranean Sea. Live music, colorful banners and handwritten signs created a festive atmosphere to help bring about positive change.
It was so inspiring (and fun) to join a group of hundreds of college students and others raising awareness for diversity and equality, and the fact that “girls can do anything!”
Although it may seem silly or sad that we need to intentionally set aside a day to honor and celebrate the achievements of women, we do. And while there are many women throughout history who should be honored today, I’d like to extend my gratitude to those in my life who inspire me every day. From my teammates Donna John and Ann Marie Gardiner Halstead, to the 10 diverse women I featured in my book, Become the Fire, thank you for the mark you have made in the world and for changing life for the better in your own unique ways.
Here, I share a gem of wisdom from each of the diverse and inspiring female leaders featured in Become the Fire:
- “See the big picture. Make a mark.” – Jules Pieri, founder of The Grommet, board member for the University of Michigan Alumni Association, entrepreneur-in-residence for Harvard Business School, and author of How We Make Things Now
- “Create your own authentic style that works for you.” – Sarah Hofstetter, president of Profitero, board director for Profitero and Campbell Soup Company, and associate national commissioner for the Anti-Defamation League
- “Be willing to do things there is no roadmap for.” – Laura Desmond, venture capitalist, board director for Adobe and DoubleVerify, and former CEO of Starcom MediaVest
- “Don’t be afraid. Go for what is in your gut.” – Desirée Rogers, CEO of Black Opal Beauty, board director for Inspired Entertainment and first African American woman to serve as social secretary for the president of the United States
- “We all fail. What separates successful people is how we respond to that failure.” – Paula Boggs, former chief legal officer and board secretary of Starbucks, board director for Avid and Seattle Symphony Orchestra
- “Success lies at being true to your creative spirit.” – Kim Oster-Holstein, founder of Kim and Scott’s Gourmet Pretzels and Twisted Alchemy, and board member for Jewish Women International
- “You need to always be learning and making yourself better.” – Emily Smith, former CEO of Wild Sky Media, and board member for Mamas Uncut
- “Be willing to roll up your sleeves and do the work.” – Winnie Park, CEO of Forever 21, and board director for EXPRESS and Dollar Tree Stores
- “The No. 1 quality of leadership is empathy.” – Talita Ramos Erickson, chief legal and compliance officer, chief transformation officer and D & I board adviser for Barilla Group, advisory council member for Hispanic Alliance for Career Enhancement
- “Always give it your best.” – Angela Martinez Korompilas, former CEO of American Hotel Register Company, member of YPO and the Economic Club of Chicago
I hope the lessons shared by these diverse and dynamic women leaders inspire you to believe you, too, can do anything so you can make your own mark in the world – every day of the year!
Order your copy of Become the Fire: Transform Life’s Chaos into Business and Personal Success.
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