National Women’s History Month is over…and I’m exhausted. So many events, so many conversations, so little time.
So what’s the impact?
What I find most interesting about participating in the many events that celebrate National Women’s History Month is the networking…but not networking in the sense of career-advancement. For me it was an opportunity to get out and to connect with women I don’t see every day, and meet many others, to think about women’s leadership, or lack thereof, and to consider what we need to do to create a more equitable world for women—and for everyone.
My month started with International Women’s Day, March 8, and the Catalyst Awards Dinner that evening. The 2017 Catalyst Awards honored initiatives by 3M, BMO Financial Group and Rockwell Automation that are specifically designed to help women advance in business. And these initiatives are deep dives into systemic change. Being a Harvard Business School graduate and having worked for a number of Fortune 500 companies, all I could say is, Wow!
For years, there has been rhetoric about the importance of men engaged in supporting women’s leadership. What I saw at the dinner were three very committed male CEOs staunchly supporting women’s leadership and diversity of all kinds. It was refreshing.
Mid-month, I had the honor of speaking at the Women’s Policy Institute’s “DREAM. DARE. DO.” Conference in Chicago. (WPI is part of the Lilly School of Philanthropy at Indiana University, and the conference is held only every three years.) About 300 women gathered from across the U.S. and around the world to discuss the many aspects of women’s philanthropy. These women were investors, social entrepreneurs, development officers and foundation heads. Just looking at the talent, commitment and drive of these remarkable women to use their financial resources for greater impact gave me another Wow! moment.
National Women’s History Month concluded for me with the Commission on the Status of Women’s annual gathering at the United Nations. The Women’s Forum of Connecticut invited those of us in the New York chapter to join them at a panel discussion on leadership, one of a mind-boggling, multi-page list of speakers and panels over two weeks. It was great to hear from and reconnect with Musimbi Kanyaro, CEO of the Global Fund for Women. I hadn’t seen her for several years, since she spoke at one of my own Junior League conferences, and it renewed my interest in seeing what we can do together on issues that impact women everywhere.
Now Women’s History Month comes to an end. I have a one-inch stack of business cards—cards of so many of the wonderful women I spoke with and intend to (no, I actually WILL) follow up with. I want to learn more about their programs because there are so many synergies and so much overlap, to invite them to speak at one of my six conferences each year, to see how my organization can work with theirs to truly make a difference and to connect those women interested in joining a Junior League with a League in their communities.
I have enough to do to keep me busy until next National Women’s History month!