A speech given at International Women's day webinar "Women in Sustainable Business" orginanized by The Swedish-American Chamber of Commerce (Carolinas, Georgia & Washington DC), March 8 2021
International Women's Day has its origins in the early worker’s movement and women’s movement. This day is the story of ordinary women who made history. It has its roots in the struggle by women for centuries to participate in society on an equal footing with men.
This is not the day to congratulate women. This is the day to remember and acknowledge women forerunners of the past, praise women of today, and pledge for men and women to join forces to continue the hard work towards #equality. In the past, the world has often overlooked or even erased the contributions of women. International Women’s Day is an opportunity to learn about the stories of these amazing women and honor their contributions to society
Harriet Tubman, Rosa Park, Gloria Steiner, Betty Friedan, Shirley Chisholm, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Hillary Clinton, Kamala Harris – the list is long and we have the responsibility to embrace and learn our own Herstory. Yes your heard it correctly. Your Herstory not only your History. Do you know your own Herstory?
The world needs more Anima
Anima/Animus is the Latin word for soul, in the meaning of the inner force that animates us (not the metaphysic aspect of a soul that might transcend into another world).
Carl Jung described the ‘Anima’ as the unconscious feminine side of a man, and the ‘Animus’ as the unconscious masculine side of a woman. Some of the typical qualities of the integrated Anima in men would be:
- Being capable of empathy.
- Being able to make judgements beyond pure rationality.
- Having access to one’s feelings.
Looking at the world in the 21st century it is evident that the world needs more Anima or expressed in other words: more women leadership and more ‘female’ aspects of leadership.
Men are given power. Women take responsibility.
From a very early age we receive a very clear message explicitly as well as implicitly about what is expected from us based on our gender. And we are all acknowledged, rewarded, punished, judged and praised based on these expectations. We are literally speaking swimming in a sea of all these messages all day round. And the message is clear:
Man, you should act as a guy:
- Don’t cry
- Be strong
- Take up space
- Be loud
- Be seen
- Ok to be careless
Woman, you should act as a girl:
- Be a good girl
- Be quiet
- Be pretty
- Be nice
- Be loyal
- Have patience
- Don’t be angry
- Be perfect
- Take care of others
So no wonder women do not take enough power but take more care and care more about others than themselves, as well as caring about a sustainable world for all of us. Men are given power – Women take responsibility.
But we all know that
”Women are powerful, too, but as natural forces.”
As Camille Paglia, Professor, American feminist academic and social critic, says.
I am convinced women cannot deny the fact that we, as human beings, are strongly connected to nature. The reason for this I believe is that women have a menstrual cycle, something we in one sense cannot control, and that this cycle gives us an opportunity to give birth to life. And every month we are reminded of this.
Mother Earth is calling us to take care of her. And women, for some reason we can only speculate around, are evidently feeling this call much stronger and thus urge the world’s ruling men to come along. Greta Thunberg and Malala Yousafzai being two very concrete examples of this.
Women, put on your own oxygen mask before assisting others...
So, women must fix the world. Women must lead the world towards sustainability and survival of the human race. But women can’t do this unless we put on our own oxygen masks before assisting others… Leadership requires reflection.
Society (other people) expects that women’s time set aside for reflection should concern those who women, in one way or another, are supposed to take care of. But this won’t work in the long run. If women only reserve time for others, they will sooner or later become victims. Reflecting on your own ego will give you the courage to rely on your own knowledge and experience. The courage to lead.
The foundation for sustainable leadership
And women, if you haven’t done so already you need to embrace and integrate the Animus in yourself. By doing so you will be experiencing external strength in your persona, clout. And clout is required to lead the world into a better place. And by doing so you will be able to take power and also be given power to change the world.
And men, on behalf of the entire human race I beg you please to embrace and integrate the Anima in yourself. By doing so we can make this world a better place together.
I want to contribute to this world by helping both women and men to find their own best way to lead. Your own best way to lead, who you are, sustainable you, beyond gender norms, that is the fundamental foundation for sustainable leadership.Anna Kowalska Lindberg