International Women’s Day, is certainly a day to celebrate the strength, beauty, and power of a woman. But what happens after that day? I am always fascinated by the ability of the general public to publicize a topic for a short period of time until the next best controversial topic arises. Personally, I am interested in ongoing, actionable conversation that takes place longer than one awesome day. On this International Women’s Day I had the pleasure of participating in the World’s Biggest Mama Meetup sponsored by Mindr, Nibble and Squeak, and United Nations Foundation in Washington, DC. The goal: to hold global discussions about how we can make the world better for all moms, and how moms can make the world better for everyone. These discussions also incorporated the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) as shown below.
Meetups like this one were taking place around the world; Nigeria alone had approximately 40 meetups to discuss women’s issues relevant for their culture. Our group of 10 - 15 women in Washington DC discussed issues highly relevant to working mothers in the United States: maternity and family leave. We talked about how a culture change needs to happen at the workplace in order to accommodate this major familial lifestyle change.
Now for the big question, what can we do to take action to bring greater awareness to this issue? Here are some suggestions:
1. Talk to your human resources representative to better understand the maternity leave policy. Ask questions, and follow up on unanswered questions.
2. Men and women should talk to their partners to develop their own plan of action. Each person should value and take their personal and professional roles into account when having these conversations.
3. This is a family issue, therefore men and women are affected by the family leave policy. Men should ask questions about paternity leave and advocate for time they need to ensure their family situation is in proper order.
4. Set expectations for yourself and your workplace. Be clear about when you will be online/offline and when you will be in the office or work remotely.
Every work environment is different, but effective communication and responsibility is key. Once you have taken steps to ensure a plan is in order, be open to the idea that your plan is bound to change upon execution. But, be honest with yourself and your team members about what you can handle. Trust the process, and tackle challenges using a solution oriented perspective.
This is a very human centric issue. Your voice matters, and issues can only be resolved over time if we discuss them in a productive manner.
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Let’s make each day an awesome day!