Tuesday, March 8, 2011

International Women's Day 2011

Atlanta Women in Business recognized the day early: last night already.

The fifteen women who met in Sandy Springs for an evening of “stories from around the world” personified one of the organization’s three values, authenticity (the other two are diversity and inclusiveness). With authentic voices, stories were told that made us think, hit us on the pit of our stomachs and reminded us that while we have come far, women’s equality is still not within our grasp.

“Personal identity”, and its accompanying financial security, was one story-teller’s theme. Even today, American women, especially in the South, are not infrequently referred to as “Mrs. Richard Smith”, “Mrs. William Jones”, etc.

Other story-tellers mentioned 26-year old Mohamed Bouazizi of Tunisia, who self-immolated last December and started a revolution, and 61-year old Maria Aguinda of Ecuador, who took on the oil industry that continues to massively pollute the environment - and won. One person can make a difference, one small gesture can cause a shift that reverberates over great distances.

We followed one family, expelled from Spain in the 15th century, on its journey from country to country, steps ahead of religious persecutors. Small wonder that last night’s story-telling descendant owns a travel business!

And, speaking of travel, there is the worldwide organization that used to be the exclusive domain of captains of industry and rulers of chiefdoms, where women, including our story-teller, now make a difference, benefiting all.

The fifteen of us decided to continue the conversation, in person and through Social Media, and bring others along. Atlanta Women in Business’s Facebook page and LinkedIn group are tools that will help facilitate this.

Last night also gave us a poignant reminder of life as its ebbs and flows affect us: one member has just buried her mother, after a long and painful illness, and another is experiencing her first pregnancy, with a feisty little girl making her presence known already months before birth.

It was a wonderful evening.

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