Reflections from our CEO on International Women's Day
Celebrated every year on March 8 International Women's Day is one of the most important days of the year to raise a toast to the achievements of women across fields in developing a more equal world. The theme of this year's International Women's Day is #BreakTheBias. For this special day our CEO Marie Francis has answered some questions.
Why do you think it is important to celebrate International Women’s Day?
Because the world of women must become equal to the world of men if success and prosperity for all humankind is to be attained at a global level.
I also think that it is important for us to celebrate womanhood and the power of the feminine. Particularly now that young people are influenced so much by social media and new thoughts and ideas. It is healthy to reflect on the journey, the identity and the capacities of women. Women are the life source that cannot be reckoned with. Women are the nurturers of the world, beings created to withstand strong forces from all corners of the earth. Women are the reason we get to love, see, listen and learn about the world we are living in.
Have you faced any obstacles in your career due to being a woman? How did you overcome them?
Of course, the structures in our society are patriarchal and competitive. As a woman who is a wife, a mother of four, an aunty to many and a grandmother there is a constant tension between my career and my other roles. I am fortunate to have a supportive husband who was the primary caregiver for our children when they were young. I try to be consistent in the approach I take to all aspects of my life and the qualities I value; that makes it easier to balance everything. The qualities I value are truthfulness, love, mercy and justice.
What is the most important piece of advice you have been given as a woman?
My mother is a feminist and always told us that ‘women can do anything!’. Too often we find reasons for not doing things – that makes us our biggest obstacle. If we truly believe that we can do anything, we can manifest whatever we want.
If you could have dinner with three inspirational women, dead or alive, who would they be and why?
Tahirih who was a poet and champion of women’s rights in the 1840s. In 1852. She was executed at the age of 38 for her beliefs and activities. Her last recorded words were, “You can kill me as soon as you like, but you will never stop the emancipation of women.” Because I am amazed by her strength and steadfastness in the face of so much ignorance and prejudice.
Frida Kahlo because of her portrayal of herself, her culture and her passion.
Rabi’a Basri because she was a classical example of how faith and love can set you free. She was the first female Sufi Saint of Islam, Rabia al-Adawiyya, also known as Rabi’a Basri. Her life as an independent, influential and intellectual woman showed that wealth and status are not acquired through financial resources, but rather through richness in spiritual value and control of the ego.
What’s the most important piece of advice you’d give to a woman thinking of starting a career?
Learn about the process of learning. Constantly question everything. Be inquisitive. Do not be defined by your study path or your career. Be open to learning from everyone you meet – particularly people from countries, places or times that are different from yours. Never stop learning.
Which woman do you admire the most?
I admire my mother for her strength, her determination and her passion for whatever she does.