Building better business Globally
On March 8th we celebrate International Women’s Day. It’s a celebration of the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women. The day also marks a call to action for fast-tracking gender equality – and this is according to the organization that actually conducts the event across the world. There have been many women who have broken barriers and dared to walk where others did not, or who espoused women’s causes passionately – like Florence Nightingale, Emilia Earhart, Billie Jean King, Diana Princess of Wales, Marie Stopes, Marie curie, Helena Rubenstein, George Sand, Emmeline Pankhurst, Indira Gandhi – to name but a handful .Today we will take inspiration from some of the highest achieving women in recent times, and hope, that more girls and young women are spurred to great heights. The theme for this year’s campaign, is Be Bold For Change.
Sunita Williams: This US Navy officer and astronaut holds the record for most total spacewalks by a woman (7) and the most spacewalk time for a woman (50 hours, 40 minutes). She spent several months at the International Space Station, travelling there on the Discovery Shuttle first, in December 2006 on space expeditions no 14 and 15. She became the first human being to run a marathon in Space – the Boston Marathon to be specific. A trend setter, she has truly reached into the sky and touched the stars.
Aung – San SuuKyi This Nobel laureate from Myanmar has been a relentless champion of democracy and peace in her country, which has seen years of military rule and suppressed freedom for common citizens. She remained in exile and then under house arrest for 15 years, but never gave up the fight for her people to have a more normal life. Her courage in the face of personal tragedies and discomfort is highly inspirational – yes, a woman can lead a nation against dictatorship.
Christine Amanpour: The Chief Consultant of CNN International is a daring investigative journalist and TV host who minces no words in her reporting. She fled her native country Iran as a little girl, and lives in England now. She reported on the Bosnian war, and has interviewed several world leaders, and hosts many talk shows, some of them controversial because of the topics. For her bold and courageous reporting, she has been the recipient of several honorary doctorates and awards for excellence in journalism.
Indira Nooyi : Smart, dynamic and electric; this is how most people would describe the current Chairperson and CEO of Pepsico. She has been ranked in the list of the World’s most Powerful Women for several years consecutively. She broke many barriers to head one of the world’s biggest food and beverage businesses – a seat considered to be male preserve. After joining the company in 1994, she was made the CFO in 2001 and then President and CEO in 2006. She has been at the helm of the company’s global strategy for over a decade, and was instrumental in several major happenings like takeover of Tropicana, divestiture into Tricon, merger with Quaker Oats and so on. Certainly a personality to be emulated!
Christine Lagarde : She is the current (and the first woman) head of the International Monetary Fund, a position she has held since July 2011. She was previously appointed as Minister for various departments in the French Government including Economic Affairs, Finance and Employment, Agriculture and Fishing,and Trade. A successful anti-trust and labour lawyer, Lagarde was the first female chairperson of the international law firm Baker &McKenzie between 1999 and 2004. She was ranked the best Minister of Finance in the Eurozone on 16 November 2009 by the Financial Times.
J.K. Rowling : Who doesn’t love Harry Potter? But not many know that the author, J. K Rowling, was on the verge of poverty when she wrote the first book. Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone – a book rejected by 12 publishers before it was finally published. And the rest is history. She was going through the roughest patch in her life: she had just got divorced, her mother had passed away, and she had a little child to raise. But she did not stop believing in herself. She pulled herself out of the depths of despair to become an international sensation. From school kids to grandmas, from the UK to India and South America, Harry Potter gained immense popularity, making her one of the richest women in the UK.
This is hardly a comprehensive list – there are so many. I have tried to give examples of bold, successful women from varying professions, to highlight the fact that virtually nothing is impossible for us women today. When we see so many exemplary women who have already made a path for the rest of us, can we not follow in their footsteps – if we cannot carve new paths ourselves?
Go out there, and make your mark on the world. Be Bold. Be decisive. Don’t wait for the world to change – make the change yourself. A Very Happy International Women’s Day to my sisters all over the world!