International Women’s Day Reflections

I am preparing to fly to CA to offer a keynote at the Central Coast Women’s Symposium in San Luis Obispo for their annual convening and celebration of International Women’s Day.

I’m grateful for this invitation from host Laura Grace, Ph.D, (who is also a Jungian therapist), as it signifies to me that I may speak not only about women and leadership for change, but about reclaiming a balance between feminine and masculine archetypes within our selves as well as our institutions, cultures and societies.

In my view, those two topics hold the greatest hope for our world, right now. For me, they clarify what the Dalai Llama’s might have meant when he said that “the world will be saved by Western women.” We who still have greater freedoms and stronger voices than many others around the world, are being called to step up our games, now.

I’m also thankful for the persevering work of Stacey Hunt and her fellow educator in Ecologiistic, who’ve been hosting Central Coast Bioneers in SLO for so many years, to help people in that region who yearn to be engaged to transform our systems to become equitable and resilient, and to find each other in this transformative time.

As I reflect, I notice within myself a braiding of the past, present and future. The future currently looks both bright and challenging, requiring both the perseverance and adaptability that the women upon whose shoulders we stand – those who fought for the rights we now enjoy – had to employ to succeed.

It feels hopeful, as so many are speaking out, protesting and being woke through the Women’s March, the #metoo movement, and Frances McDormand’s elegant modeling of shared leadership in her inclusionary honoring of all women who’d been nominated, in any category, when she accepted her best actress Oscar. Hopeful, as a need has clearly emerged to include ALL women in this massive movement, to educate ourselves about intersectionality and white privilege, and to reach out to those who’ve been marginalized by unjust systems to value their wisdom and power in the mix.

I am also heartened by how more people are looking to find ways to welcome and integrate men and boys into this massive movement toward equity. By how gender fluidity and nonconformity have become so much more accepted and appreciated. I’m hopeful to see young parents are sharing parenting and workloads without predestined gender definitions. I’m deeply grateful that so many more of us are thinking about this stuff, and doing our own work to decolonize our minds and to shed the self-limiting stories and assumptions we often carry.

What we face is also daunting and will ask much of us to co-create the changes that are needed. I’ll be difficult, because the Handmaid’s Tale feels closer than ever, and the president is an admitted sexual predator. Difficult, because the 45th administration is ramping up its War on Women, with policies already altered and rescinded to limit women’s reproductive freedoms worldwide and the judiciary stacked with anti-abortion judges. Difficult over a long haul, as I remind myself that global studies have revealed gender bias as the deepest in the human psyche, creating deeper divides among people than faith, race or class.

Thankfully, as the Dalai Llama suggested, it’s not a question of whether or not rebalancing the feminine and masculine, and transforming our worlds into places of equity, peace and regeneration will happen. It must. It’s a question of when, and how, which will be determined by how many of us rise to the occasion how soon, and with what levels of commitment, love and endurance. May we rise soon, and ongoingly, and stand with those frontline women who’ve endured the most, as they understand essential lessons about resilience, lessons we all need to learn.

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