It Takes Two
This is the last week of Women’s History Month. And while it is nice to have a month to call our own where we have an opportunity to celebrate the inspirational contributions women have made to the world. As well as take time to reflect on where we’re going, how we’re going to get there and the challenges that lie ahead.
While we’ve come a long way, the struggle for equality is real and the issues that still face women remain formidable. As we continue to move forward, what does it take to move the needle on empowering women and closing the gap on equality? We can’t do this alone.
Women and men are integral parts of the “gender system.” If we want to see meaningful change, it is going to take both men and women to move the needle and close the gap. I don’t believe it is enough to just empower women and expect men to follow.
The time has come to change the narrative and invite men to stand in solidarity with women to create a bold, visible, and united force for empowering women.
There is a story in the Bible I want to share with you. I believe it lays the foundation on how we move forward. We have to work together collaboratively to move the needle and close the gap.
You can find the story in Judges 4:8-9.
(v8) And Barak said to her, “If you will go with me, then I will go; but if you will not go with me, I will not go!” (v9) So she said, “I will surely go with you; nevertheless there will be no glory for you in the journey you are taking, for the Lord will see Sisera into the hand of a woman.” Then Deborah arose and went with Barak to Kedesh. (NKJV)
Barak, as commander of Israel's armies, would not go into a battle without Deborah. Even when he was told that would not get the glory for it. Instead, he was a great man of faith. His actions were an acknowledgment of the potential power of a women’s contribution to the leadership team. He understood that Deborah had godly and skillful leadership traits that were needed to win the battle.
He knew that their combined efforts would ensure success as each one brought their distinctive, God-given strengths to the challenge.
In return, Deborah’s quick and humble response showed that she knew her presence was essential to the victory and that her supporting leadership was significant.
What is our take away from this story and how do we apply it to today?
When we empower ourselves (take responsibility for our lives, make our own rules, honor ourselves, live by our inner compass, values our passions, chooses empowering relationships, and take a stand) we can quit looking at men as competition but rather as co-authors of females equality together with us.
We need to invite and include men in the ongoing conversation on gender equality. There needs to be more collaboration and dialogue between men and women.
The following are three steps I believe may help guide our conversation as we move forward together.
1. Acknowledge and Embrace our differences as men and women: Men and women were designed differently for a reason. Different attributes and characteristics that when married together bring influence and change. Be you!
2. Speak up: Transparency and open dialogue are essential. There has to be clear communication about expectations from both genders. Diversity involves more than gender it also includes a diversity of thought. We have to be willing to be open and honest and speak our truth in love with one another.
3. Fight for change but celebrate progress: Women have more than enough reasons to be frustrated. The last couple of years of #MeToo more women are realizing that their story is not that uncommon. However, don't allow your hope to fade into disappointment. We have to continue fighting to move the needle and close the gap. Let's take time and celebrate the wins; however small they may be.
Empowering women has to be a collective effort. Are you willing to open yourself up and be a part of that effort?
Whether you work in corporate America, a non-profit, the government, or on your own, do you have a male counterpart that you can collaborate with to help empower women?
Looking at the three steps above, what does each one of them look like for you as you seek out collaborations with male counterparts?
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Make today amazing!