When I began my journey into the leadership development space, I became interested in understanding the root causes of women being treated unfairly in the workplace. My journey took me in a more scholarly direction than expected, and I began to research deeper into the historical and sociological aspects of why women and girls have been marginalized and, in many cases, left out of societies.
I started realizing that “women’s issues” are not really women’s issues at all. Women are one part of the equation while the other part are the men in society. In places where women are oppressed and pushed to the side, the oppression is being done (mostly) by men, and this led me to understand the importance of expanding the conversation of inclusion and female empowerment to men, as well and creating male allies to help take forward our goals of elevating society and the workplace.
As my brain always does, it was seeking to "solve" the problem. As I began to think about solutions, I questioned why I am the way I am, having a seemingly similar background to many women who are not as privileged to be able to stand on their own two feet with dignity. It dawned on me… I have had a male ally from the time I was born, and I wanted to take a moment away from analyzing and researching, and just say thank you.
So, what started out as an article of the importance of bringing men on board the train of female empowerment, has turned into a letter of gratitude to my father. Perhaps some may think, this is not the forum for such a post, but I would say, now more than ever we NEED to showcase our humanity, share our vulnerabilities and our extend our gratitude towards one another.
Thank you for teaching me how to be a strong person. You never treated me differently because I was a girl. You always pushed me to think. You always encouraged me to question. You taught me that my faith and my mind were the most important and valuable things that I possess, and with them, I could achieve anything. To you, my looks were secondary, and you reminded me that they were fleeting. Your manhood and your strength never weighed on me. You never felt insecure in teaching me about my own strengths as a woman. You always told me that a mother is everything in the home, a caretaker, a healer, a friend, and a guide. Thank you for teaching me to be a scientist and to never belittle myself. Thank you for raising my brothers to be strong and kind men who showed me nothing but love and support. Thank you for the lessons on life, many of which I only now (decades later) understand. Thank you for the memories that I eternally carry. Thank you for insisting on education and always encouraging me. Your voice forever echoes in my mind “no one can ever take away your thoughts, use your voice to do good”. I promise to try and do good every single day and make you proud.
I also want to thank all the fathers out there who are present, who take the time to play with their children and teach them their worth. The fathers who show kindness and want better for their children, both male and female. Thank you for being the most valuable man in your child’s life and forever shaping their future.
As employers we search for great talent, we should also begin to encourage the parents we work with to take time to parent, they are creating the workforce of the future. “There is no school equal to a decent home and no teacher equal to a virtuous parent.” – Gandhi