A few years ago, we were helping organize a client’s groundbreaking ceremony. We were working with the local Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts and discussing their role in presenting the American and Wisconsin flags during the ceremony. As we were deciding who would carry each of the flags, one of the girls yelled out:
“I want to carry the American flag,” she said before ducking back and hiding behind another girl, scared because everyone was staring at her blankly.
It struck me as a MOMENT in time where I had an opportunity to make a difference. I took my moment, leaned over and told her, “Never be afraid to speak up.”
From an early age, girls have been intimidated and told to quiet down and take a back seat. So many young girls find it uncomfortable to speak their minds and even when they do stand up and speak out for what they want, they are embarrassed or feel judged.
This is where it starts: the fear of asking for a raise, the insecurity of being a working mother instead of staying home with your children, the anxiety of taking a job in a male-dominated field and the habit of not putting oneself first for fear of being judged. Well I have news for everyone, this is 2018 and this is where it ends.
It is our duty to seize these moments to remind young women that their voices matter, and they can speak as loud as they want and grasp whatever opportunity they desire. We need to make it a point to encourage women to speak their minds and when they do, we need to take that moment and listen to what they are saying.
This International Women’s Day, I want to tell all women the same thing I told that Girl Scout: stand up, speak up and be fierce.