The Live Edit: The Power of a Woman - Launching The DAL Project



Have you ever thought about how you look to the world? How you command your presence? How you enable respect?

Have you ever wondered what it would be like to walk into a room and immediately initiate conversations and networks with those inside?

Have you ever asked yourself why you always have to work harder than others, but never have the same outcome?

I did. And I hated my realization.

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For some backstory, I grew up in a house with two strong women. No father. No brothers. No male influence. I grew up from the age of six with my mother and my grandmother, who were both unfalteringly strong and taught me a myriad of life lessons.

I never once wondered what life would be like to have my father around, nor a brother or a grandfather. I never knew any different. Yes, sure I had friends who lived in a 'traditional' nuclear family, but I knew that wasn't my hand at life. So I never wondered about an alternative.

That was until the day I moved school as a child and was awoken to the realization that when attending a Catholic school in a strong Catholic district, you will be outnumbered and ostracized if you come from a lone parent household. Even if it is purely no fault of your own.

I remember being nine years old, and physically shocked and appalled when my mother was asked by my headmistress as to why she didn't have a husband. She wasn't asked about how she was doing following her impending divorce, nor was she praised for raising her daughter and looking after her mother, whilst holding down a full-time job and attending further education.

No. Her self-worth was accumulated into her reason to not stay with her adultering husband.

I couldn't understand why it was considered wrong to not be married, or to be separated from a partner. Yes in draconian Catholic scripture it is frowned upon to have a child and be unmarried. But it also was frowned upon to commit adultery. I couldn't understand.

I was so angry that my mother who I regarded as my idol, my confidant and, all-around wonderful woman, was being preverbally shit on for being a single mother. Why were they not focusing on her other abilities? Her other strengths and achievements? Why are they condemning her for not having a husband?

And then she stood up and walked out. After taking a beating from an unbearable and judgemental woman, she followed her exit with;

"I do not need my husband to bring up my child". 

At this point, you could imagine me, air punching the sky and cheering. But I was frozen. She should not have had to defend herself. It was not her fault that this was the position that she was in. She wasn't responsible for her situation. Yet she had to be.

Because she is a woman.

Being raised by my mother and my grandmother, I never knew that there was a world of injustice and insecurity purely based on your gender. I have never once had a female role in my life that conforms to 'social norms' or standards set in previous decades. Both my mother and grandmother, my aunts and my cousins, have all been modern, hardworking women, that never conform to any norm, nor take any bullshit.

My grandmother for example (who was affectionately known as Dal - short for 'darling' ), who I owe most of who I am as a person to. She had six children, blissfully married to my grandfather, and bestowed on each of their children with high values, respect and, responsibilities. My grandfather was not a 'bring home the bacon and that's it' type. He shared his responsibilities with his wife and understood that there was two in the marriage and every duty is split evenly. Yes I know, there should be more men that were like him. A true gentleman.

But even when he passed away and their children were older, my grandmother never lost her sense of self. She was insatiably stubborn, most perfectly elegant, and always instilled positive values into her children and her grandchildren.

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Which leads me to now. A twenty-something woman that is trying to make sense of how we lost those values that our strong women relatives taught us.

Maybe its a character fault on my part, but I take zero shit. I inherited my grandmother's stubborn nature, and the desire to work my hardest to achieve my goals. I've never conformed to a stereotype, and I've never fallen under the thumb of a respective partner.

My first adult job was working in an office with ten males and I was the only female. At nineteen, everything probably was a glaring error. But for me, it was my dream role.

I was never undermined, nor 'mansplained' anything. I was valued for my (albeit naive) thoughts and discoveries. And I was provided with an education by every male in the office. I unearthed skills and talents that I never knew I had, and I was treated as an equal and with respect. And I worked hard, I gained all of the respect I earned. And to me, it was corporate bliss.

So fast forward two years and I land my first ever role at one of the world's leading banks, and I am slapped in the face with the harsh reality that is:

I am not important to these people. I am not a man.

In a stark contrast to my first job, I was de-valued, unrespected and ultimately demotivated by my role. I worked 11 hour days and was never appreciated, yet my male colleagues were always given better projects, tasks, and what I would later come to realize better salaries.

I couldn't understand why I was working longer hours, working harder and still not having my voice heard. I would raise points in meetings only to be ignored or scoffed at. I'd propose new projects only for them to be stolen by my male counterparts. Why was I invisible?

I didn't understand how this was happening. I couldn't find an answer, so I started searching for a woman who was in my role before me, that was now a senior. And I was absolutely dumbfounded when I realized that there was not a single woman in a position of authority that wasn't in HR, Customer Service, or Service Management.

I went home and explained this to my mother, who in her career pre-baby, was dominating her field. She was in the retail industry, specializing in men's tailoring, and was one of the best, and of course, she was a woman.

So she gave me the harsh reality check that I needed and explained that in some roles, women are not seen as equal. Some women aren't paid the same salaries even though they work harder than their male equivalent, and whilst that doesn't discount the work done by some men who do work extremely hard, sometimes being a woman is seen as a handicap.

This handicap can be anything from maternity to parental duties, menstrual discomforts and ailments associated with menstruation, sexual harassment, work/life imbalance, lack of role models and my personal hate, educational discrimination.

So in layman's terms; if you bleed for a week, have a kid or looking to start a family, report a colleague for inappropriate behavior, struggle to find a woman in power with the organization and to top it off, dare to aspire to something bigger or higher education, it means you are well and truly fucked.

Why should it be?

Now to someone who doesn't have the same view as me, this will come off as whiny, entitled and self-absorbed, which of course you have the right to your opinion and I respect that. But I'm not about a world where women rule over men and only use them for breeding. No. I want a world where everyone is valued.

I want a world where everyone is equal. Regardless of gender, race or sexual orientation.
I want women to have the confidence to speak up in meetings, have their point heard by those with influence.
I want women to hold themselves with respect and dignity when faced with situations that seem unfavorable.
I want women to have the strength to report when they have been abused, harrased or place in an uncomfrotable situation by a person, and for thier report to be taken seriously.
I want women to aspire to be in power, to lead teams, companies and dominate their field. Because they want to, not because they have to.
I want women to have the strength to say no. To lead by example. And to gain the same respect as they deliver. And to respect their fellow women, instead of tearing them down.  

I don't ever want to see my daughter live in a world like this. Where every day we have new reports of sexual misconduct. Where one of the most powerful nations in the world, actively elected a known advocate for sexual assault. A man who thrives on power by being a bully not to just women, but also men who dare to speak out against him. I don't ever want my daughter to hear insults thrown at racial profiles or gay stereotypes.

I want my daughter to live in a world when each and every human is respected equally.

And most importantly, I don't ever want to see my daughter judged because of how she decides to live her life. Be it with a man or a woman by her side or not.

And because of this, today marks a change in my own history. A change that I will hope that you will join me on.

I never want to see women being judged by their life choices, their appearance nor their orientation. Women should never be seen as a threat to power or unstable egos. Women should be in control of their bodies, their health, and their own welfare, and not by congresses or parliaments.

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Today I want to start the change for women having the voice that they deserve, to create a hub for so many like-minded women, and to support my fellow women in their own ventures and strives.

Today marks the launch of The DAL Project. DAL means, "determination and love", and here's how you can get involved.

Follow @thedalproject on social media.

Use the #thedalproject to spread the message

Comment down below and connect with other women, engage with them, discuss issues you are passionate about. But above all, inspire, respect and empower.

I will be rolling out The DAL Project later on in the next few weeks and while we are in the early stages of this project, I'm delighted to say that we will be supported by many of my fellow friends and companies that you all know and love. But for now, let's start the trend and get a movement going to create a voice for women in this world. Because for us to create change in this world, we have to lead by example.

Thank you.

Mx

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