May 16, 2014

Women Matter

By Shelley Hannah, as published in The Creemore Echo

 “Why a column called Women Matter?” you might ask.

 Let me share the context behind this initiative. It is rooted in the concept of inclusivity. It begins with my enthusiasm about being alive at this time, and woven into that, my deep belief that our lives are opportunities for us to contribute something to the community around us, perhaps even to the evolution of life on our planet.

I believe that we live in THE most interesting time to be alive as human beings. I believe that we live in a pivotal time, when we are facing economic, environmental, political and social challenges, and where our choices – individual and collective – often have an immediate and consequential impact. So with this as our backdrop, I believe that we are ALL being called forth to alter the course of current inertia.

We have a perfect example of this in our own neighbourhood with the threat of the mega-quarry. Many of us – perhaps you, too – were called forth to take a stand for something more important to us – clean water and food – than the comfort of our anonymity or the status quo.

That being said, I have, over the course of my adult life, noticed that women’s voices, women’s contributions to conversations and women’s perspectives on situations have too often gone ignored, unnoticed, unacknowledged, uncelebrated and simply, not put to good use. From women’s voices protesting the beginning of WWI in the Hague to the current situation in Syria to the dynamic between my own parents. Something different happens in groups where only one in five people are women (as in our local municipal council) than when women are equally represented. We very often do not get to reap the benefits of women’s creativity or genius in such situations.

In 1995, Nobel Peace Prize recipient Aung San Sun Kyi opened the NGO Forum at the fourth UN World Conference on Women in Beijing with: “For millennia, women have dedicated themselves almost exclusively to the task of protecting and caring for the young and old, striving for the conditions of peace that favour life as a whole... Now that we are gaining control of the primary historical role imposed on us of sustaining life in the context of the home and family, it is time to apply in the arena of the world the wisdom and experience thus gained in activities of people over so many thousands of years.”

It is exciting for me to notice the places where women have something to add to the conversation. And so it is, on many local and global fronts – opportunities that scare and/or enrage us, or, from a different perspective, that inspire and engage us to bring a little – or a lot – more of ourselves forth than we might have known ourselves to be, to make a difference that matters to us.  Where do you see places that might benefit from a new perspective or a different or tone that women could bring?  Where, if you are a woman, have you wished to have been heard, or had the courage to share your ideas?

This column is a place to explore the places and ways that we might truly be an inclusive community. It is a place to acknowledge that there has been an imbalance in the conversations and actions that have shaped our communities and our world, a place that acknowledges that this imbalance exists still, in spite of the efforts made in recent decades. It is intended to be a place that sparks respectful conversation and thoughtful engagement.

For women, I encourage you to take a few moments to notice the difference that you make in the lives of those around you, to celebrate the difference that women together have made in the course of local and global history and to consider where next you will make a difference.

For men, I welcome you to honour and acknowledge the difference that the girls and women in your life have made, and to consider just one thing that you could do to facilitate our world being more inclusive of women’s contributions, locally and globally.

Indeed, WE are the ones we’ve been waiting for, to make the world a safer, more compassionate, inclusive and joyful place! All of us.

Your comments & questions are welcome! Step into the conversation here!


Shelley Hannah is a life coach who specializes in connecting people - particularly women - with their purpose, to live and lead with passion.





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