My name is Lisa Regan, I am an entrepreneur, a business owner, a wellness writer, a fashion columnist, a race director, a GAA PRO and Secretary and I am a woman. These are all the things that I do to contribute to both myself and society.
Yesterday was International Women's Day and I spent the day talking with young girls from 14-17 in Mayo about positive body image, the role of social media in our lives and how being well and happy is vital for them to be successful. The evening was spent talking about business, entrepreneurship and women at a business event with my Strive for It Business partner Gill.
Born in the 80's and educated in the 90 and into the millennium, the world for me was always at my finger tips. I was never told I couldn't really do anything but was always encouraged to stay in my own lane and keep my head down.
My father always encouraged me to do teaching, he said it was a good safe job. But I think when I came home from New York in 2005 with half my head shaved, that the days of me playing it safe were over.
I always held women in high regard, always respected and admired the work ethic of the women that were in my life throughout childhood and in my teens. I was around strong willed women with drive and ambition and yet there was always something that bothered me from an early age. Why were these strong women in the background?
In our GAA club they were the social committee, making sambos and the tea, but never sitting at the top table. Never the decision makers and never on the front lines. I said to myself that day, I will be sitting at that table and I will have a voice, I knew then that I wanted to be part of a vision for change.
I sit on the executive board of my GAA Club, the only woman. Last year when discussing events at a club meeting, a womens social committee was motioned to be established. Essentially a tea making group. Yes in 2015 I posed the questions to a room full of men- had they not realised that they too can in fact boil a kettle?!!
They laughed as if they had not even thought that this social committee should be mixed gender and it is making these changes now that will of course set the standard for our juvenile sports boys and girls lives.
Seeing men out coaching and women in the kitchen was normal for my childhood but now I want to see change and I want to see a joint effort to make jobs and task not gender exclusive. I want to begin and continue this conversation for the next generation.
The words we habitually use affect how we communicate with ourselves and therefore what we experience. Women in life and in business have always had its own story and its own language.
I as a woman in my 30s want to be part of a new conversation. I want to be part of a conversation that will lead to there being no more women in business but just people in business. The gender gap and gender profiling in business, in politics and in non profits is something that I want the next generation to read about only in their history books.
The hard conversations need to happen now and collectively women need to raise their voices and sit at the table whilst men need to raise their game and really listen to know that a level playing field across business, sport, politics and life will lead to mutually beneficial society for everyone.
This is not a men versus women argument because we are all the same, I see no difference between what I can offer in life than my 30 year old male counterpart. Although wired very differently, men and women working together offers so much more than us working against one another.
Women at a young age are described as bossy if they are direct where there wouldn't even be a comment passed on a young assertive boy. It starts like with everything at grassroots. We need to nurture and foster a good self belief system in all young women to know that having Self believe gives you the keys to your own freedom and knowing your own self worth is priceless.
I posed the question to a room full of young teenage girls, "Did they feel that boys were better than them at school, at sport and at life?" They was a passionate and resounding "No!" This mindset and knowing that we as women are equal is an important part of the conversation and a very positive one that is instilled in young girls and boys.
We need to Challenge together, we need to work together to know that we are all equal and all offer something brilliant at whatever table we sit at together.
We need Systemic change, we need to sit at the table, it all begins here. It begins with every woman taking that first step. Belief is a very powerful thing, a strong self belief in you can be unstoppable, but the belief must be deep rooted and you must really own it and know it.
Women will of course be leaders in business, they will be always involved in start ups and women are across all business; financial, tech, scientific and corporate sectors but we need now to raise our voices a little and tell that story. We need to inspire a vision for change.
It is our responsibility to encourage our peers and our role models to step up and to encourage that female entrepreneurship is celebrated, applauded and recognised. There is no being boastful or braggy about being proud of what you do.
There is no need to be bashful to say, I am a business woman. I am not lucky, I have trained, I have studied, I have created and I have worked to build my dream and to make it a reality. I want life, I want to live and I want to be me in everything that I do.
It is not about the clothes on my back or the shoes/runners on my feet but about my capabilities, my drive and my unstoppable commitment to creating the business and the industry that I have envisioned. I am an entrepreneur and I am me.