Last Wednesday, I was horrified to read a mother’s plea for advice upon learning that her daughter had been bullied. As I read her Facebook post, she described that nasty phone calls had escalated into an incident where her daughter had been followed home from school by two girls from another school. She had been subjected to a barrage of obscenities and comments that to film it all ‘would be funny’. Her daughter’s threats to call the police made no difference and it wasn’t until a woman jogging by intervened that she fled home and revealed all to her mother.
I felt inspired by the way this Facebook conversation developed. Many reached out with words of support and some with experience of handling this – parents and teachers – offered practical advice about what to do next. To date it sounds like positive steps have been taken in partnership with the school. But it was shocking to read. And all the more so given the date of the post.
Wednesday was 8th March. International Women’s Day.
The last week has seen a flood of messages to read, events to attend, speakers to listen to with every one of them determined to have their say on women’s issues. On the day itself, A Day Without Women strikes were held in 40 countries. Yet in Australia, Georgina Dent wrote of feeling underwhelmed and in the UK, topical women’s chat show Loose Women was replaced by the budget coverage. And while former US Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton accepted the Girls Inc. 2017 Champion for Girls award, the news feeds were full of comment about her red ensemble and new ‘crop’ rather than her stand for girls to know that who they are is ‘enough’.
We are inundated with messages about standing together. About being smart and empowered. About challenging discrimination and embracing diversity and choice. About creating a better world – for women and for everyone. That who we are is enough.
But this act of viciousness – by the next generation of women against one of their own – has made me question who we are for each other. I’m not talking about friendship. I’m talking about how we behave in life. What sort of role models are we? At work? At home? In our communities?
“Negative images can powerfully affect boys and girls, but positive images have the same kind of impact…I really believe that if you can see it, you can be it.”
We cannot leave it to business, industry and government to push the agenda. Sure, campaigns like Dove’s Real Beauty and Sport England’s This Girl Can are powerful statements of intent but they will not shift the dial alone. We must be the examples.
And that means all of us. Everyone.
We must all do our part. Every single day.
Enough is enough. Hands up who’s up for that?
Image Source: Clipart Fest