What a great time to be a woman! I mean, yes, we still have a long way to go until we reach equality, stop sexual assault and harassment, get equal pay, have more women in C-Suites and elected officials, and equal rights all over the world. But, after spending some time listening to some of the most inspiring women at the Watermark Conference for Women in San Jose, I am all womanized yo! But in all seriousness, if there has ever been a good time to be a woman, is now because this is the time when women are speaking up and asking for what they deserve and fighting for equality. Now some of the amazing talks will be available in podcasts later and I don’t want to break any rules but I am sure I can share my favorite points of the conference with you and my takeaways which I truly believe will help us all.
One of the things that was highly emphasized is that the world as we know it is changing. Over the last few years the gender gap has very slowly started to close. Last year almost 5% of 500 Fortune companies had a women CEO. I know that number is tiny, but it’s definitely and indication of change. More women have executive roles all over the world and that number is on the rise. But women in leadership are not the only numbers rising. With the #metoo movement triggering women to speak up against sexual harassment, the number of women who have gained the confidence to come forward and speak about this issue has also increased. And we are demanding change! Now, I know you know that all of this is happening because we’ve been talking about it for a while now. By we, I mean us women who are sick of the injustice and demand gender equality. Feminism is in full force now and it is only getting stronger by the day.
Now, I am not here to share my feminist points of view but rather to share with you my favorite moments from the Watermark Conference because I am a woman, I am mom, I am a proud Latina, I am an immigrant, and I have all the interest in equality because I have a daughter and I need to stand up for what I believe is correct so she can have more opportunities than can be counted. My favorite moments came from 3 of the keynote speakers:
- Amal Clooney. To be honest, I only knew of her because I’ve heard on the news she had Clooney’s baby and that was a big deal. I had no idea who she was and didn’t care to find out then because I didn’t think who Clooney chose to birth his first child had anything to do with me… just honest here! BUT as the interview unfolded, I rapidly knew I needed to do more research about this beautiful woman who has done AMAZING things all over the world. Listening more about some of the cases that she has helped with, was eye opening for me. She has been fighting for human rights, and she will continue to do that. She clarified that this imagine a lot of people have about refugees is the wrong one: “People don’t choose to become refugees. They’re just victims of war … How we respond to that is a test of our humanity.” Indeed it is! She spoke of the support her foundation is giving to the students of Florida who are turning a tragedy into advocacy. They give her hope and I am sure many of us feel that way too. In this regard, she added: “There’s a mental health issue and violence in films all across the world. But this is the only country where this problem exists. The difference is guns.” Not gonna get political here but you know where I am going… She also provided great advice about career and following your passions. And let me tell you that I feel inspired by her journey.
- Maysoon Zayid: O-M-Geeeee! This woman is just amazing! If you aren’t familiar with her I suggest you listen to one of her talks and to make that easy, heres the link to one of my fave click here. But back to her at the conference. She stands up for people with disabilities, minorities, women of course, AND she is a comedian so put a cherry on top! Some of the points she raised was about giving people with disabilities a chance especially in Hollywood where people without disabilities play the parts of disabled ones: “If a wheelchair user can’t play Beyoncé, Beyoncé can’t play a wheelchair user!”. Along those lines I liked her clarification that people use the term wheelchair bound when rather wheelchairs free up people with disabilities. One other thing that she brought up and I agree with is the importance to stop using the word “bitch” to refer to each other. I am not the one who uses that word to call my “girls” or “gang” or how ever you refer to another female because even as you try to say it with a cool tone, the word will always be a demeaning one. So stop using that word! I tots agree with her, no need to use it… AT… ALL… EVER! I ran into her after the lunch and I was able to strike a conversation with her just as if I was talking to my girlfriend. Such a sweet soul!
- Reese Witherspoon: The “bend and snap” queen still gots it! I am a complete chick flick lover and she’s had her good share but she is now a businesswoman running her own production company! She is a mom, a hot mom in my opinion, a great actress, a producer and a strong advocate for women. To me it was just simply great to listen to this well-known Hollywood actress talk about insecurities and challenges she faced, and how she did it. She said: “99% of your negative thoughts are made up AND not true… eradicate your self doubt!” and boy is she correct. I am telling you, I walked out of that room feeling different about myself, more secure in fact. Another great point she made was around the word ambition. People often associate ambition with dirty terms when it relates to women and that shouldn’t be the case. At all. Ever! We are allowed to be ambitious especially if we are women; to want more, to work for more. Two other things I have struggled with and she mentioned was aging and make piece with your mommy pouch. She said when she turned 40 she just stopped caring what others thought about her… brilliant! I am not 40 yet but already feel that way. I had made peace with myself and fallen in love with my body flaws and all included. And on that self-love journey she also made mention of one her favorites projects which also relate to that: “What I loved about making [Wild] is that the movie has a happy ending—and she has no man, no money, no parents, and no job. She saved herself.” Now I will only add one more thing about her speech and that was about the Time’sUp movement she started to assure every workplace is free of harassment. Raised $20M for legal fees in 10 days and 450 volunteer lawyers committed to this cause. This is great! We need to make change and Reese is sure at the forefront for gender equality.
Now, I know I shared a lot today, but I think is all good stuff and important stuff. Like really important stuff! We need to use the power of our voice. We need to demand change. Fight for rights and equality. We need to stand up. Empower each other. And as today, March 8, we celebrate International’s Women Day, I feel beyond thrilled and proud and excited to share about this with you all. On my personal IG I shared a video about what today means to me which is a lot and is all related to this post BUT I want to add here one more thing that I added there: Men you can help us too! You need to put your egos aside and see, appreciate, and give us the value we deserve. The real huge value we are!
Celebrate the women in your life. Not just today but EVERY DAY!