On Saturday, millions of women, the men that support them and the children they’re raising came out in solidarity for the Women’s March in Washington DC or the 576 sister marches in 81 countries around the world.
I joined the Women’s March in Toronto.
I had initially planned to go it alone, thinking that neither my young daughters nor my husband would want to hang out in the cold on a Saturday morning. I also didn’t think many other women would be willing to come out to oppose a president of another country.
I was wrong on both counts and I’ve never been more grateful.
After I tucked my girls into bed on Friday evening, I was called back to their room. It seems they had been chatting after I shared my plans for the next day. My youngest, Elia, spoke first, asking if she could whisper something in my ear.
As she picked at her lips, she very quietly asked: “Why don’t you want me to come with you tomorrow?”
Looking into her eyes that were welling up with tears of rejection, I asked if she wanted to come with me. As she nodded yes, her sister said, “You said you’re marching for girls and boys, so why can’t we come, too.”
They also thought it was only right for their daddy to join us, too. He couldn’t agree more.
It was overwhelming to watch my girls raise a homemade sign decorated with hearts and flowers that read: “Girls support girls” over their head. Equally powerful was the tens of thousands of others who were doing the very same thing.
I’m still trying to process my feelings from the weekend. What I’m finding is that a lot of those feelings and my desires to take action are very similar to what I felt back in November as I tried to come to terms with Hillary Clinton’s election loss.
So, today, I’m reposting the 3 simple actions you can begin to take to further your support of women. I’ve also added a bonus action for those who are ready to take on a bit more.
1. See something? Say something.
We all have a responsibility to stop bad behavior dead in its tracks. It’s equally important to prevent the more subtle forms of bias. And, the best way to do that is to call it out and counter it with facts.
Here are some examples: if you hear someone questioning a new working mom’s commitment to her job, give an example of how she’s already proven her loyalty. If a young woman on the team is interrupted by a more senior colleague; call out the poor manners and give her back the floor. Whatever the situation may be, you need to speak up.
You may not think your actions have much impact, but they do. Providing an alternative perspective can help neutralize biased thinking and put others on notice that such discouraging comments are unacceptable.
2. Mentor a woman
Just as it’s important for you to find a mentor or a model to look to for inspiration and support, you need to find ways to mentor others. It doesn’t always have to be a time-consuming commitment. If you have the time to take on a formal mentoring relationship, then please go for it.
But, if you don’t, you can still mentor someone. All it takes is asking a question, sharing your experience or offering words of encouragement.
Need inspiration, then consider: looking for that young woman that shows you something special. Or find that newly pregnant mama in your group. Then, begin a conversation. Ask them about a specific project they’re working on or if they’ve figured out their plan to transition their work before maternity leave. Or you can share a piece of advice or offer a resource to help them with a specific task.
Whatever you choose, the aim here is to start a supportive conversation and signal to the other woman that they have an ally in you.
3. Talk to your daughters and sons
Here’s the reality: a father is rarely, if ever, asked how he balances work with his family. It’s because the idea that daddy works and mommy stays home to care for the family and home remains an assumption in our society that continues to make its way into the minds of our children.
So, it’s up to us to talk about it. Yes, we do it for the paycheck it provides our family, but we also do it for other reasons. We need to openly talk about the work we do, the joy we get from working, the example it sets for them, and how it helps us be better moms.
The more you talk, the more normal it will be – for your family and for the family your little one may grow to have one day.
Bonus: Find an issue that’s important to you
There are countless issues at play in creating a more equal world today and for the next generation. This means there are countless ways you can get involved. These can be the big issues like pay equity or reproductive rights.
Or it can be more niche. Like working moms. This has been a concern of mine for some time. And, my hope is through these pages and engaging in conversations, I’m helping to break down the stigma that still surrounds women who chose to be more than a mom and providing the information and insights they need to make their choices work.
So, what will you choose?
And, which of the above actions will you start taking? Tell us in the comments below and share if you have any other simple ideas to add to this list.
In love and solidarity,