THE RESILIENT WOMAN

In the past year, we have seen one human character repeatedly surfacing – Resilience! We kick off this Woman’s Month with just that. 

The dictionary defines resilience as “the ability to recover quickly from difficulties” and “the ability of a substance or object to spring back into shape; elasticity”.

 ‘To spring back into shape’ is an excellent way of putting it into perspective because that’s exactly what it entails: taking unpredictable stress or adversity head-on and ‘springing’ back into shape so that you’re able to keep going.

 

What does that have to do with Women’s month?

 Well, everything! I might be a little biased – but the ability to “adapt” seems to be (right or wrongly) synonymous with women, and how women have been perceived for generations.

Reading about the heroic women of 1956, and the iconic march to the Union Buildings on August 9th, protesting the extension of Pass Laws to women, I cannot help but wonder what that experience and moment in history convey to the woman of today. Does it define some of the qualities the 20 000 had, and we take for granted as women today? Does it present pressure to be more, do more, achieve more regardless of the sacrifice. Does it empower us or weigh women down?

Of course, that was a different time, and the potential results justified the means. What those women had to endure and the courage of the 20 000 on that day is mindboggling to me in 2021. That moment and many others throughout history have formed a backdrop, and expectation for today’s woman.

 

So, when we talk about resilience being about our ability to adapt, overcome and remain stable in the face of adversity, trauma, stress, and tragedy. The part of our psychology that says, “I will overcome this situation and become a better, stronger and more confident person when this is over,” and a depiction of just how profound and intricate we can be as human beings – these women of 1956 are a reflective depiction of resilience.

 

Fast forward to 2021, the South African Government celebrates this year’s Women Month under the theme: “Generation Equality: Realising Women’s Rights for an Equal Future”. The fact that there is a theme in a country where 51,1% (30,5 million) of the population is female shows who challenged women are. With many households in the country primarily on the shoulders of women – while facing inequalities in the workplace, the home, and society in general, how are we realising an equal future for women?

 

This year has hit women in our country hard! Let’s put it into perspective and starting with the high levels of unemployment is a good place to start.

We have just experienced the devastation of the pandemic, and the dreaded third wave with many women losing their jobs and livelihood in 2020. In the July looting, more jobs were lost, and more households were left challenged. This week the department of health published that more than 23 000 teenage pregnancies were recorded between April 2020 and March 2021 with 934 between the ages of 10 and 14.

 Can we even wrap our minds around those statistics and the future of these young children and girls, the future woman? 23 000 young females have a drastically altered future changed in one single year!   If you include the increased violence against women and children statistics in this timeframe, which skyrocketed due to the pandemic, one might ask – what is Generation Equality. How do move the dial, make a change, and start seeing real transition for women in our country, and across the world?

   – yet every day, women in this country is still a need to keep one foot in front of the other. When we look at a woman – there is an expectation to “just bounce back”.

For most women, resilience is survival. It just is.

 I loved the article published by UNWomen.org at the beginning of the pandemic! They provided ten inspirational quotes and stories to staying strong during the pandemic from women across the globe, with exceptional displays of resilience driven by choice.  Zero assistance or support, and certainly no cheering committee. They just got it done! You can find the article here.

 Resilience seems to leave the participants with limited choices when driven by horrific circumstances, as history has proven. It is displayed through consistent action, hope and belief for a favourable and better outcome. More importantly, a burning platform can propel individuals and organisations to act and call on the resilience muscle much quicker than any program can.

 This women’s month of 2021, there is much to learn from women of our time and those before us. Like change, the ability to adapt may not be easy, or towards a direction we like or want to take – however it is part of moving forward, taking the next step, and transforming as the world around us changes,

 Take away for your organisation?

  • Use women in your organisation to their strengths – you will be surprised how they can help craft a healthy, resilient, and engaged organisation.
  • Create that burning platform! Do it in a thoughtful and well-planned manner, with supporting mechanisms for your workforce.
  • Create clear plans and actions for an equal future for women in the workplace and make them part of the daily conversation and organisational culture. Be deliberate in your design, persistent in the rollout, and make no apology for striving to create equality.

 

Now, back to us! We would love to come in and talk about individual, team, and organisational resilience. Please keep your eyes peeled for the following pieces, where we will look at this topic from different angles!

 Don’t forget to reach out for any Change Management requirements. We look forward to meeting you! Book a quick 30-minute session here.

 

To all the women in our country, Happy Woman’s Month! Be kind to yourself, be sage, put yourself and your needs first to be able to give from an overflowing cup.

 Tlale Mosimane, MD – Change Agility

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