dentsu international

To honor Women’s Equality Day, we'd like to take time to highlight and share the writing of three incredible women who are part of the dentsu network. 

Be the girl that went for it

By Caroline Brisset Content Writer & Content Specialist at ICUC

I was recently thinking back about a gorgeous snowy day, with colorful twinkly lights and a chocolate chip cookie smell in the air. Yes, it was a classic Canadian winter day. There was a lot of snow, and it sure was colder than the inside of my freezer outside. None of this is relevant to our story here, but it sure paints a cute picture. 

Anyhow, that day was THE day when I finally got a snowboard, boots, helmet, and all the good stuff. It was a second-hand white board with light-green and gray stripes—the boots were slightly too big and did not match with the rest of the set. But it was the most beautiful thing I had ever seen. I was happy. At that moment, it was the best day of my entire life—I was about fourteen.

I have learned many life lessons over the years, but thinking back, that story particularly stands out with the importance of the life lesson I learned. And it does feel quite spot on with Women’s Equity Day—even if I am talking about winter, when it’s still about 35 ℃ outside.

I had never snowboarded before and didn’t know anyone who did, so panning out and trying something new was quite the challenge. But this sport seems so cool and fun to me—oh and it sure was—that I reached for it anyway.

To get this quite ambitious project started, I had to get some sponsors, aka my piggy bank and some generous family members. A long stop at the second-hand sport shop later, I was fully geared up and ready to attend my first snowboarding class.

Snowboarding might not be much, but for that shy young girl, it was. That snowboard didn’t get me to the Olympics—not that it was ever the plan—but it was surely a fun, thrilling and joyful ride. I snowboarded and it was all that mattered. 

This is just a silly kid story. You might ask where I am going with that? What’s the point here? Well, it is all about going for it no matter how small your “it“ is. What you are seeking doesn't need to be big, it just has to be yours. Go ahead, push, and keep going. Be the girl—women—that went for it, no matter what others might or might not say. Don’t do what they tell you to do or expect you to do but do what your little inner voice is seeking, is dreaming for. You are the main character of your story, so start acting like it—because I sure know you can. Yes, I am talking to you, the bright, smart, and amazing woman reading these lines.

People may not understand—family and friends included, and that’s totally OK. To quote Michelle Obama, “There is no limit to what we, as women, can accomplish.“ That one particular snowboard-filled quest taught me a lot about life and the kind of woman I want to be.

How will you go for it?

I know more about myself now than I used to while only fourteen loops around the sun old. But, still, this snowboarding dream shaped my life choices to this day. I seek to go for it and make things happen in my way, no matter what.

Going for it, no matter what others are saying, is and will not always be a smooth ride. There will surely be a few screams and tears here and there along the way, as well as up and down. Please allow me a cheesy snow and mountain metaphor here. It will either cheer you up or make your eyes roll. I am going anyway—I want to be the woman that went for it, isn’t that right?

Drum roll, please…

To enjoy the smooth, snowy snowboarding slopes, you need to get on the chairlift to get back up and go on again. Even if you’re really, really scared of heights. Even if you’re freezing your butt out on the ride up.

You might get lucky and enjoy a heated cushiony chairlift seat or even a cozy gondola with Wi-Fi. Who knows? You have to get out there and try. Each ride, each chairlift might be different, but go for it. Isn’t it what you secretly always wish for?

Be the woman that went for it! I know that you got it in you! You might not be a snowboard enthusiast, but this was not a snowboard story. This is the story of a girl that tried her best and decided that her wishes were good and worthy enough to take a step in the direction she was aiming for. We are not quite fairies, but we can surely create magical memories.

68 seconds...

By: Coleen Grey, Content Specialist, ICUC

"Children should be seen and not heard. Why are you so quiet? You talk too much. Smile so you look approachable. Stop smiling, you don’t have to be such a flirt. You won’t ever be more than a farm wife, having babies, and cooking dinner. What happened to your grades? You won’t graduate and go to university with that mark. Stop fiddling with that camera and study so you can do something great with your life. You are not made for anything more than being a mother and a wife. You should smile and talk more; people think you are snob. Stop being so friendly to everyone, it makes them think you are a flirt. You should put in more effort to be part of the team. Be quiet, no one wants to hear about your ideas. You haven’t said a word, what’s your opinion on this?No one cares what you think. Your experiences are great, but you make everyone else feel inadequate. Why don’t you talk more about yourself, I bet you have great stories. You talk about yourself too much and no one believes your stories anyway." 

Yes, these are actual words said to me directly. There were so many more, about my height, I am a little taller than average. Canadian farm girl genetic lottery. My face, my clothes, my hair, my constant singing, dancing, drawing, painting, and writing. My 4 sisters, (yes, my poor father, 5 daughters and one bathroom, no running water either). Where was I, yes, the 4 sisters, they were all 9 - 5ers. A Lawyer, a regional manager for a restaurant supply chain, a camp manager, and accountant, and me. The family artist. I can hear you putting the derogatory tone into that word from here in France. 

The first career path I chose was completely male dominated. I learned to adapt and be less feminine to survive in a high pressure, high turnover field. I dressed in the same khakis and weird photojournalist scarf that is the standard, and unspoken, dress code for my male colleagues. Now I wear my slippers to the kitchen table to pop open my laptop at 06:00hrs. 

Growing up on a farm, surrounded by hired men, with ribald wit and generally sarcastic boys talk, I found my place after a while. It wasn’t a far stretch to be considered one of the guys in whatever dirt hole, foreign conflict zone I was sent to. Now, I make green tea and speak French to my dog, while I moderate other people's angry digital bullets. Instead of dodging real ones, being more concerned about losing my lens cap, then being in the sights of a conscripted child with a far too large rifle. I still have high concern about losing my lens cap though. 

Every so often, back in the day, I used to have to ‘get off island’ to remember what it felt like to soak in a warm bathtub and read a good trashy novel. Or how about to go on a date, and just be a woman for a little while. Now, I grab my market basket, put my furry roommate on his leash, and commiserate with my neighbors about when we think the tourists will finally go home. By mid-August, we all long to have regular prices and less human traffic jams on our narrow cobblestone streets. 

Celebrating being an independent female contractor, doing a job I love, working with a team I can admire and respect. Living the life I choose, instead of the one I as told was all I would be good enough for. Being a woman in the early part of this century, at this time, with all the freedoms to choose what I want, is like taking a big breath after holding it in for 68 seconds. The ability to choose, is a hard-won battle that was fought long before I started my first career. Isn't it amazing where we are right this moment?  Bet you just started holding your breath and looking for those 68 seconds on the stopwatch. It's not as easy as you think. 

E-Q-U-I-T-Y, Tell me why it makes me cry

By: Emilie Boivin | Content Specialist ICUC

The trigger — He said what?

Quiet. Let the men speak.” What? Just typing these words makes me overheat. Is it just me? YouTuber Little Black Book 91 said these words. In a YouTube live stream, he explained the context of the situation and why he felt justified to say what he said. Still, it didn't sit right with me. It reminded me of a not-so-distant past when women were seen, not heard. We've come a long way since then, but have we made it? Based on this incident, it seems there is still a struggle for power between the sexes. Have we reached an equal status to men?  What’s equity and why should we demand it? On Women's Equity day, it seemed fitting to ponder those questions. 

Feminism through time- Where are now?

We have come a long way in the fight for equality. To understand where we are now and how we got here, we need to study feminism throughout history. There are four waves of feminism. Voting rights and property ownership were the first issues. In the second wave, equality and anti-discrimination were key goals. Intersectionality and dismantling rape culture dominated the third wave. In the fourth wave, young people are being engaged in feminist activism through digital media. We should keep fighting for a world free from violence, exploitation, and discrimination. Our goal is a world that is fair, just, and inclusive.

Case in point: 12 million girls are forced into child marriage annually. Intimate partners are responsible for physical or sexual violence against more than one in five girls and women between 15 and 49 years of age. Currently aged between 15 and 49 experience physical or sexual violence by an intimate partner. Globally, the UNFPA estimated 295,000 maternal deaths in 2017, which is 211 deaths per 100,000 births.

(Facts and figure obtained from the blog post “3 Ways South African Miss Universe Zozibini Tunzi Keeps Showing Up for Girls and Women” by @Lerato Mogoatlhe, March 2020, @globalcitizen.org)

We are now in a position to take up space and cement our place in society. Creating a future that fits our dreams is possible. Who we are is up to us. Feminists today recognize that all oppressions are interconnected and that more work needs to be done.

My childhood hero and the lessons she thought me.

Lady Oscar, the main character in Rose of Versailles, was my childhood hero. Before the French Revolution, she was the commander of the palace guards at Versailles.

Women and men alike admired her beauty, smarts, strength, and noble spirit. When I was a little girl, she embodied strength, power, and boldness. However, my hero had struggles and flaws. Despite her duty to class and country, she was torn between her heart and her desires. The fact that she was raised as a man indirectly implies that it is where she gets her strength.

Originally, I thought being like a man made a woman strong and significant. It seemed like in order to be successful nowadays, you have to sacrifice your personal life.

Nowadays, I don't think being like a man necessarily makes a woman strong. On the contrary, we are truly powerful when we embrace our womanhood, our emotions, gentleness, and nurturing nature. I believe that we can claim our spot next to men in the workplace by embracing who we are. One thing's for sure: we need to keep fighting the strong women trope. We need to show the world that we can be strong and successful without sacrificing our femininity or our humanity. We need to identify what we want and fight for it.

Lessons learned: We are strong and vulnerable and emotional. We can go hard or be sweet and gentle. It is all strength. Our womanhood, who we are as women, is our asset, not a liability. Having it all means choosing what we want.

Do we need Equality or Equity? How about both?

I grew up thinking that everyone was equal. As a black child adopted into a white family, I thought we also had the same rights and opportunities, and it was up to us to take advantage of them. I was convinced being a person was enough to give me the right to exist.

I believed that everyone had the same rights, but I discovered that was no true after moving abroad. Some people have an easier time getting the tools they need to succeed. Others are born into environments that stifle their potential. Still others face discrimination that limits their freedom. As a result, equity is more important than ever. To me, equity is making sure everyone has the tools they need to succeed. Equality is giving everyone the same rights and opportunities, while equity is offering everyone the same rights and opportunities. Everyone deserves the opportunity to reach their full potential, which can be accessed through education, a safe place to live, or the freedom to work without fear of violence or oppression. We need to ensure that everyone has the same opportunity to reach their full potential. Otherwise, we will continue to see a world full of injustice, suffering, and loneliness.

Lessons learned: We all want equity and equality. And we all deserve it. So while equity is about getting the tools you need to succeed, equality is about having the freedom to forge your own path. Both are essential for a just and equitable society.

Can we come together?

A man I had a crush on once told me that he wouldn't date any woman who was smarter than him, which turned me off and made me sad. He was not the only one. Nine times out of ten, my male friends say that a smart and strong woman should not be more intelligent or richer than they. Do some men still believe that women should know their place because society dictates it? A relationship's true test is whether or not you can trust each other. We need to trust and give each other freedom in order to achieve equity. It is crucial that we change our mindset so that we can coexist and be empowered without sacrificing one another

Lessons learned: Coming together is possible through a collaborative mindset. No one should have to dim their light or mute their power. Love and trust foster unity.

Where to next?

The women's rights movement has made great strides in recent years, but there are still many areas where women are not treated equally. We're expected to be strong and independent, but also care and supportive. We are told we can have it all, but the reality is that often times we have to choose between our career and our personal life. It can be lonely being a woman in the world today, but I take comfort in knowing that there are millions of women out there fighting for the same things I am. We may not always prevail, but as long as we continue to fight for equality and freedom, we will eventually achieve our goals.

Lesson learned: Where to next? Owning our autonomy over ourselves and our light.

Conclusion

Clearly, there is still much to do regarding gender equality. We need equity to reach our full potential and succeed, and we need equality to have the freedom to forge our path.  Let’s work together in unity, men and women, to make that reality happen for the most people possible.