Earlier this week Jane Caro gave an answer to the question she likes the least but is asked the most: are women their own worst enemies? If you read her piece, which you really should, you will know they’re not.
But just last night I heard another professional woman make an off-the-cuff comment about women holding each other back at work. Ironically the comment was made just a few moments before Sarah Liu, the force behind Little Girl Big Dream, an organisation that seeks to empower and equip young women to flourish, stood up to launch her new book 500 Words of Wisdom. The book features contributions of 500 words of wisdom from 23 iconic female leaders.
Before Liu spoke she played a video message from a few of the women who couldn’t make the event. Carolyn Creswell, Jackie Frank, Maryanne Shearer and Jayne Rdlicka were among the women who appeared on the screen. They each spoke about what motivated them to sit down and write 500 words of encouragement and advice for other women. Their answers were compelling.
To help build an environment that doesn’t require choice and compromise. To ensure their daughters have the same opportunities as their sons. To encourage young women to look at the world as theirs to make. To dream big. To act with courage. To back themselves. To bite off heaps and chew like crazy.
The book’s initial premise was to encourage emerging female leaders but looking around the room last night I suspect it wasn’t just the young women who were buoyed by their words and the author herself.
Saying all women are their own best friends is as useful as saying women are their own worst enemies. There is plenty of grey matter in between. But I don’t think that alters the fact that when women do embrace other women, when they take an active interest in sharing their own wisdom and experience for the benefit of others, it’s immensely powerful.
When it comes to seeking progress in removing inequality in all of its guises harnessing that power, that goodwill and that wisdom from women who have rendered inequality null and void in their own worlds, is surely a good place to start. Which is exactly why Sarah Liu set out to publish this book. The fact so many smart and savvy women were thrilled to be on board is telling.
Of course there are women who will hold others back just as there are men who will hold others back but they’re not nearly as powerful as the men and women who are willing to bring others with them.
500 Words of Wisdom will on sale from August 1 in Kikki-K and T2 stores nationally. Next week we will publish some of the 500 words of wisdom from the women featured in the book.