The theme of International Women's Day 2017 is #BeBoldForChange.
This brings to mind the incredible 'out there' campaigns and projects of courageous and prominent individuals. Amazing people, doing amazing work to effect positive change.
Such work is vital and we must support and celebrate it in every way we can.
When this year's theme was announced, I was reminded that alongside the large-scale campaigns, small bold acts can also have a BIG impact...
My 'bold' act all started with something as simple and seemingly insignificant as switching off my mobile phone. Allow me to explain...
My usual routine used to consist of hopping out of bed and immediately switching on my phone. As I got ready, I'd start to check emails, make calls and thus my working day had begun before I'd even left the house.
A couple of years ago I discovered that if I kept my phone off and began my morning instead by doing something I really loved (in my case this was dancing), my whole day flowed better; I was happier and more productive. There's nothing especially mind-blowing about this realisation, many people start the day with some kind of morning practice - yoga, meditation etc.
What I found interesting was my initial reaction to taking this time to myself and most crucially, to being honest with others that this was how I was spending the first part of my day.
I felt somehow embarrassed about admitting that I was taking this time. On occasion I actually caught myself lying about why I'd not been contactable, saying I'd had an early meeting (or even a doctor's appointment!) Somehow this seemed preferable to simply admitting that I was taking time, purely for myself. What on earth was I ashamed of?!
What I think I'd tapped into was a much bigger problem. Historically, women have struggled to take up space and to step into our power. Right now in the world we need to step up more than ever. The world needs what women have to offer.
I realised that if I couldn't even take time to myself without feeling in some way guilty, how could I expect to feel worthy of taking up big bold space in the world?
This I decided, just wouldn't do and I would have to make a change:
So I started to be really honest and unashamedly admit that I was taking time to myself because that's what I need, to be a resourced women, 'out there' in the world. I stopped lying that my phone was off because I was in a meeting and instead would say things like "oh you won't get me first thing in the morning, that's my time" The reactions were really interesting. This would always spark further discussions. Friends started to feedback to me that they'd been inspired to start taking their own time and space too.
I came to realise that to keep my phone off in the morning and dance was a statement, a commitment to myself. It was in fact, a bold act of self-love. There, I said it! By starting my day with this simple act (and most crucially being honest about it) I was taking time to breath out, and unapologetically take up my space.
And that's what we all need to do. We need more women to take up their space in the world. We need more women in government, in business, in positions of power. We can all start modelling this right now simply by taking up our own space and stepping into our personal power.
To do that is bold!
I encourage you to take a look at your own routines and habits and start to scan for those little bold acts and courageous changes you can make right now. Perhaps it's taking time to yourself in someway or putting your ideas forward more at work, speaking up and sharing your experiences and realising that they have huge value to others...
The great thing about small acts of bravery is that they really aren't small at all! When we do something that feels brave or scary, then it's bold. And when we are bold, it gives those around us permission to do the same and creates a wonderful domino effect.
In celebration of International Women's Day, let's all Be Bold For Change in every way we possibly can. There's so many amazing initiatives out there to get involved with or even start your own! Remember to bring the boldness right into those everyday 'little' things. Accept compliments, smile at yourself in the mirror, be kind to your body, be generous and loving with yourself - knowing that to do so is to affirm that you are an amazing woman - worthy of taking up her space in the world. Live and repeat the stories you wish to see unfold. Inspire others, simply by modelling the change you want to see.
We must keep fighting the 'big' fights, but it's often in the supposedly small acts that shifts happen and change occurs. When we realise this, we understand that we can truly all do something to effect positive change and that's seriously exciting!
One action, however seemingly small, creates a ripple, and those ripples make mighty waves...
Happy International Women's Day #BeBoldForChange
HuffPost UK is running a month-long project in March called All Women Everywhere, providing a platform to reflect the diverse mix of female experience and voices in Britain today
Through blogs, features and video, we'll be exploring the issues facing women specific to their age, ethnicity, social status, sexuality and gender identity. If you'd like to blog on our platform around these topics, email firstname.lastname@example.org