2018: The Rise of Women.
Posted on December 13 2017
2017: In retrospect
This time last year I wrote a post on the rise of women in tech 2017: Rise of the Women (in Tech) where I stated, “The biggest disruption next year will come from women, not robots.” I wasn’t wrong.
But there is more work to be done. What I could never have imagined is how the wave of women coming forward to call out injustices would have taken form. What started as a movement of women enraged by yet another unqualified man taking a job not rightfully his, became a sisterhood no longer willing to put up with it all.
On January 21 2017, women all over the world took to the streets in their hundreds of thousands to protest (estimated total global figure of 5 million marched). It was Trump’s first day in office.
I got asked many times why I marched considering I was not a US citizen. But what most (men) didn’t realize then but do now, is that Trump coming into power was a global problem. What he stood for, nay what he stands for still, is the unequal balance of power given to unqualified, undignified, and quite frankly, ill equipped men. But as is often the case, rather than give power to a woman, that was the choice many preferred. Crazy when you think about it now, right? But not a surprise for many who have seen this happen countless times before in the workplace.
You see, in the midst of the pain which 2017 has brought us, buried between the daily unveiling of sexual predators, the unwavering rally cry from abused women and the virality of human life being viciously stolen in front of our very eyes, we have exposed one epically rotten core. A core so sullied by the unequal balance of power that it is now, thankfully, disintegrating. The patriarchy is finally falling.
But, this is not news to many of us. After all, once exposed, there are often hundreds of people who come forward having already known about the injustices. The victims, the family and friends, the partners, colleagues, clients and accomplices. And this is where the rot really hides — in the hearts of those who played a part. Those who forced the victims to suffer in silence for fear of not losing their own partners, work, life, loves. That was the true repercussion of speaking up. It was the victim, not the perpetrator, who lost everything. But not anymore, thanks to the brave voices who have spoken up this year. It all changes now.
I like to think of women as the fairer sex. Not fair in any other way but just. Women are more likely to be irked by social injustices and I believe, as a collective, we are better placed to do something about it. But we have to be pushed to the absolutely limit before we really roar and that was 2017. 2017 is the result of decades of abuse and not being listened to; decades of not being allowed to work in the way we want to; to wear the clothes we choose to; to talk in the manner we would like for ourselves. You see, women have been held back for so long, we lost our identity. We lost the ability to speak up when the very things we knew were wrong took its toll. We kept our silence to keep the peace.
This can’t happen anymore. #MeToo, a movement initially started by Tarana Burke in 2006, but made viral by Alyssa Milano this year, is here to stay. No longer can we remain silent on the matters which negatively affect us all, and no longer can we let these movements pass without positive action.
Since the feminist movement of the 70s, there has been little protest from women. We kept on keeping on. We got on with the sexual abuse, the bullying in the workplace and we let men take over as they always had, but what has changed is this… We now have a voice. And we are learning to use it.
We might not be welcomed (what’s news?) but the landscape has changed in so many ways for women. And naturally, some people don’t like change. They fear it. They fear us — women — in the same way they fear robots. In the same way racists fear color. But 2018 is the year we all get used to change. We have to adapt to the fact that women want to rise. And not just women, but anyone who has previously been left out of the equation of white male supremacy.
And I don’t want to make this a rant against white men. It is more a rage against the system which has held too many good people back for too long. We don’t want to be held back anymore and I believe tech and the rise of social media platforms can and will empower us better and faster than ever before.
2018: Raise Your Voice
Platforms like Twitter and LinkedIn give a voice to the voiceless. They allow anyone anywhere to get their opinion out to a tribe of people who are willing to listen. That is incredibly powerful. And should be used to its full potential. For good.
As a woman who has spent ten years in tech, I co-founded my latest venture on the same premise. That women now have an opportunity to raise their voices for the first time ever, really. And I want to help them do that. My sister and I wanted to inspire and empower as many women as we could so F= was started to do just that — ethical slogan fashion to spread the word about female empowerment, online platform with more than 200 interviews with incredible women to inspire, and a partnership with Worldreader which has seen our sisterhood tribe help the non-profit empower around 6,000 girls out of poverty in the developing world (proceeds from our GIRL POWER range goes directly to Worldreader).
But is it enough? What more can we do? We must raise our voices. We must deafen those who are causing conflict and harm, and we must continue to tell our truths and the truths of others. Moreover…
- We must support those who speak out and we must educate those in need.
- We must empower more women to take positions of power and we must step up into the positions which are rightfully ours.
- We must include the men who support us and will continue to fight alongside us.
- We must challenge those who do wrong and oppress, regardless of gender, race, religion or position of power.
- And most importantly, we must do all of this publicly. Each step mentioned above must be done in full view, using whichever and all platforms we have available. Because, by doing so, we will enable and empower the next generation of women and formerly oppressed to take their positions at the table too. And that is what 2018 is about. Taking the power back.
So whilst 2017 has been one hell of a year, for all the wrong reasons, the real news is that we all have a voice now and we must use it. We must use technology to enable our message to reach further and faster because we all have the ability to be storytellers now; to speak up about the injustices we see and to discuss how we can come together to fix them.
So women, sisters, all, I urge you all to take the pain from 2017 and channel it into our rise in 2018.
Never has there been a better time for women to stand up and, finally, be counted. #RiseofWomen
*** This post first appeared on LinkedIn. ***