President’s Message on International Women’s Day

Several years ago, I was struggling with feelings of not being heard and not feeling confident in claiming my voice in various areas of my life. It was a frustrating feeling and often left me feeling deflated and defeated.  On sharing these feelings, I was given a piece of advice that has stayed with me ever since, and one that I still employ on a frequent basis to give me confidence and clarity.

It is a simple exercise – so simple because the advice was inspired by the actions of a child – and I owe that little chap a debt of gratitude for this nifty little phrase! The advice was this – when I needed to make my voice heard, I was to declare: “Excuse me, I have something to say…”. This phrase creates space for me to share my views and opinions; requests others to listen; and as a result, makes me feel heard, counted and valued.  In short, it helps me to have courage and to be bold to speak up and to speak out. No megaphone required.

And sometimes I needed some extra encouragement…As I was learning to put these words into action, if my husband saw a moment or an opportunity where he knew I wanted to contribute, he would turn to me and say “Sarah, do you have something to say?”. In doing so he helped me to create that space to use my voice and to claim my place in the discussion at hand – helping me to be bold and to have courage.  It now reminds me of the technique used by some of the women in the Obama administration to support each other to make sure their voices were heard – which they called amplification.

The theme for International Women’s Day 2017 is #BeBoldForChange.  The campaign is calling for people around the world on 8 March – and beyond – to #BeBoldForChange by taking bold pragmatic action to accelerate gender parity.

YWCA Ireland seeks to support and encourage women as they lead change in our society. YWCA Ireland’s vision is inspired by our Christian faith and as part of a worldwide movement leading change, we seek to empower women in Ireland to be engaged, connected and transformed and to lead and affect change through Christ.  We want to stand with women across Ireland to encourage and support them to be, and to keep being, bold and strong voices for issues impacting women at local, national and international levels. We want to equip women to stand up and declare that they have something to say. We want to create and support safe spaces for women to share their views, we want to amplify their voices.

YWCA Ireland seeks to do this, for example, by supporting the Turn Off the Red Light Campaign and initiatives like the Homeless Period Dublin; by providing opportunities for young women to participate in Women as Advocates for Peace and Justice Project in co-operation with YWCAs in Palestine and Great Britain; by engaging with European and World YWCA movements to access training and development opportunities; by encouraging and supporting young women in our governance structures.  We have committed to the bold and transformative World YWCA envisioning goal: By 2035, 100 million young women and girls transform power structures to create justice, gender equality and a world without violence and war; leading a sustainable YWCA movement, inclusive of all women.

And YWCA Ireland will continue to seek ways to declare to women across Ireland and beyond: “Strength! Courage! Don’t be timid; don’t get discouraged. God, your God, is with you every step you take.” ( Joshua 1:9 The Message).

I encourage you to join with us in YWCA Ireland to thinking how YOU can #BeBoldForChange. Look out for our International Women’s Day postcards being sent to members and friends this week…Use them to inspire yourself or share them with those around you to #BeBoldForChange in your communities, your country and your world.

So…Do you have something to say?

Leave a Reply