When you grow up being told by your own mother that the only thing you should be focussed on is finding a very rich man and marry him, you tend to either comply with this “sage” advice or start questioning your self worth.
I did the latter – and my teenage years were difficult, let’s say. I thought (naively) that mothers were supposed to be their daughters’ best friends, support them in every single thing they wanted to do – especially if they were keen in pursuing a career – and be there for them.
I couldn’t have been more wrong; mine wasn’t. But that was a long time ago and much happened since.
What this very personal experience taught me was that if I ever had a child, or if I ever met a young girl or woman who needed my help in any way, I should never do to them what my mother did to me. I swore to be helpful and, excuse the invective, never be a “bitch”. And although many times it was very easy to be the latter, I did my best not to.
I’ve met many women in my career – some were absolutely amazing, some were “my mother” and others were unsure of themselves. What I did and do admire in a woman are resilience and character: you need the former to succeed and the latter to be true to yourself.
If we, women, supported each other in a genuine, constructive and meaningful way, I truly believe that the gender pay gap and the number of women on boards and in leadership positions would have been matters of the past by now.
But we don’t support each other as often as we could and should, for fear that someone we help may be better than we are, that they would “steal” the promotion we would be up for or that they would be more “famous” or respected/trusted than we are.
A “legacy”, let’s remind ourselves, is not what about what you do and achieve for yourself, but for others. If you help a woman when she’s at her most vulnerable, if you give her the chance to make it, if you show her the ropes and the finish line and if you teach her what you know, you can change that woman’s life forever.
So, to all the amazing women I know, to all those women who have never forgotten who they are and what they stand for, and to those women who succeeded despite everyone else believing they would fail, THANK YOU.