My view is that a woman who goes through life without taking any notice of society's perception of her becomes the most feared individual on the planet. This is because patriarchy wants to reduce her to an insecure, submissive female and as long as she rejects the notion of validation, she is perceived as a threat to the status quo.
There are a huge number of activities going on around the world to improve the situation for women, and there are places where men are working with women to achieve this. There's no doubt that this movement is gaining momentum and makes nonsense of the idea that men cannot see women as equals. It's an outdated way of thinking, and increasingly governments, businesses, communities and families are all coming to recognise the positive benefits to be had when women and men are working together and treating each other as equal partners. Of the numerous ways to change women's lives for the better, I've picked out five things that you can do to help make that change today:
Access to a mobile device can be life-changing, particularly for women. The Cherie Blair Foundation's research with the GSMA revealed that 9 out of 10 women in developing markets feel safer because of their mobile phones; 8 out of 10 feel more independent with access to mobile technology and more than half have used a mobile phone to earn additional income.
Last week, I attended my sixth Annual Meeting of the World Economic Forum (WEF) at Davos, Switzerland. I attended many of the sessions in and out of the forum and there was no shortage of women's faces. But appearances can be deceptive. Many women attending did so, not as delegates but as staffers or spouses of the delegates. Sadly this year among the 2,500 delegates, only 16% were female, down from 17% in 2013 - its highest ever. Yet, despite this, there was a real feeling that it was time to get serious about ensuring that 50% of the world's population get their fair share of the world's resources.
I had the pleasure of interviewing business leverage expert and solopreneur CEO Tina Forsyth about the enigma of being profitable when you operate a business that generates $100K or more in revenue. I invited her to be my guest because I heard her speak passionately about this topic on her Women on Top telesummit.
Three cheers for Germany, where politicians have thrashed out a deal that will see companies forced to have at least 30 per cent of their boardrooms made up of women. The two parties expected to form the next government have not only agreed the quota, but also put a timeline on it arrival: Two years. Good. We should be embarrassed.
I have the honour of being a mentor for the Cherie Blair Foundation for Women and was recently asked to provide an online session for their mentees, all of which are women in developing countries. The aim of the session was to provide strategies and tips to help them overcome the challenges they may face.
To encourage more women to make the breakthrough into senior healthcare management roles, we need to do three things. Firstly, create a better network of support and advice for young female healthcare managers; secondly, provide more effective mentoring; and thirdly raise the profile of the current crop of female senior managers to be inspirational role models.
Ultimo celebrated it's 14th birthday last week, which was a very proud moment for myself and my team. It's been a rocky year for the brand due to my marriage break up (a lesson learned, never mix business with pleasure!), but the company is back on solid ground and our future is looking very bright indeed. I couldn't be more excited about the next chapter. Like any birthday, you find yourself looking back nostalgically at what you've achieved, where you've been, what you would have done differently - and after 14 years in the industry, I can honestly say it's been an incredible ride and I wouldn't change a thing...
Sitting on the rooftop of Gladys's juice bar in Freetown, I was having an informal chat with some of the women my foundation supports. This wasn't my first trip to Sierra Leone. I was there for International Women's Day in March and had spoken then to some of the women. But this time I got to have a long, in depth conversation with them about the difficulties they have faced as women entrepreneurs and what benefits they get from participating in the country's first network for women entrepreneurs, which is what the Foundation has helped to set up here.