The Last Thing We Need Are Companies Specifically Designed To Exclude Women

Version of this article appeared on Junkee – 4/11/2016

The day before Junkee broke the story of plans to start a male-only co-working space in Brisbane, I had written a Facebook post expressing my frustration about being a woman in the start-up world. It went pretty much as follows:

Friday night: Go to a business awards night (where every award winner is a man) and am seated next to a total douche who keeps touching my arms, shoulder and leg when he speaks to me. Discover that Mr D  actually has a new baby at home and, thus, presumable partner that he never mentioned.

Monday morning: Go into the office and am told that aforementioned douche and his all-male team are moving in until January. Aaaand because they need extra space, we have been moved to another location. Without being asked or consulted, I might add. Up until about a week ago we have been the only woman-led start up working out of this space. When I challenge the decision and ask why it happened, I am told that it is because ‘I am nice’.

While this situation mostly focuses on this particular douche, it speaks to much bigger issues. It is so fucking hard being a woman in the start-up space sometimes.

I am always outnumbered. I am tired of having to fight for space. I am tired of being the only woman on a panel or in a room. I am tired of having to explain WHY this is a problem. I am tired of having to constantly worry about how to approach these issues in a way that gets my point across but is also not too threatening/aggressive/argumentative/bossy – and potentially harmful to my business. I am tired of having to figure out if a man is asking to have coffee with me because he wants to do business or because he wants to have sex.

You get it – I am tired. After posting this on Facebook on Tuesday, I received so many messages and emails – mainly from women also in the start-up space – saying ‘Thank you – I am tired too’. So I am sharing this because I know a lot of other women are tired as well.

To give you some background, I run a Brisbane-based startup called Words With Heart. It’s a sustainable print and stationery company that funds education projects for women and girls. I launched the social enterprise on my own almost two years ago and now have a team of five talented women working alongside me. We count Macquarie Group, ING Direct and Hudson as clients, and we partner with some of Australia’s leading NGOs empowering women and girls in CARE Australia, One Girl and The Global Women’s Project.  I’m proud of the success we’ve had so far but, at times, finding the energy to keep going in this male-dominated sphere is incredibly hard.

Basically, the start-up ecosystem is well and truly driven by testosterone. 75 per cent of start-ups in Australia are founded by men, and when you get into the big leagues, only 4 per cent of Australian high growth technology start-up founders are women. Far and away, the vast majority of investors are dudes, and so perhaps it is unsurprising to learn that less than 15 per cent of female founders are successful in seeking venture capital. Spotting another woman at a networking event amidst a sea of suits is often the easiest game of ‘Where’s Wendy’ you can imagine. (Case in point – see the image above taken by a colleague just last night). And, as was the case at that fateful awards evening, it’s not unusual to be the only woman at a table.

One of the (many) problems with all-male work environments is that they perpetuate the gender discrimination that already exists. When women are not visible in a start-up space – to the point that they are actually barred from entry – they are not viewed as equal peers. It reinforces the existing entrepreneur stereotypes of the bold [white, straight] male risk taker – the likes of Richard Branson, Elon Musk, Mark Zuckerburg and Bill Gates. It subconsciously implies the false notion that women don’t have the skills – or to quote Donald Trump – the stamina to be leaders. When you’re quoting Donald Trump, you know things are bad, right?! White male privilege becomes even more entrenched in the status quo. The already predominately male investors connect directly with the already predominately male start-ups. The work being done to enable women founders to be seen and to break down the barriers in access to capital, media coverage and recognition completely fall away.

I can only really see a male-only co-working space contributing to the predatory, hyper-masculine and toxic behaviour that already exists. For the record, it’s this kind of male entitlement that causes violence against women, not depression or a lack of male-only spaces.

Just about every female founder I know has a story, if not multiple stories, of sexual harassment. The senior executive that commented ‘Don’t you have a sexy voice!’ following the completion of a pitch. The venture capitalist that set up a meeting with a friend over Linked In, only to greet her with a lingering hug. The developer that sent another friend lewd texts and photos. The frat-house like culture of male saturated tech start-ups is well documented, and it frightens me to think how that might escalate if women are intentionally removed from that environment altogether. In reality, an all-male co-working space and the businesses it hosts are going to have interactions with women at some point. And it seems unlikely that there’ll be accommodations made for any solid sexual harassment training alongside the gym, physiotherapist and barber shop.

But perhaps the most distressing thing about the gender gap in the start-up space that is sitting with me right now is that it’s difficult for us as women to talk about. I was nervous to write this article, I am nervous about the response to it, and I genuinely worry that it will affect my business. I’m often wary of calling out every instance of sexism I experience, because if I’m seen to be ‘too difficult’ or ‘too aggressive’, or god forbid ‘too feminist’, I might alienate investors, partners or collaborators. And because my business funds education for women and girls, I feel an added weight of responsibility. My success means their success. If only all men in the start-up space thought the same way.

5 Must Watch TED Talks for Women Entrepreneurs

I am SUCH a TED Talk addict. If I need a quick 20 minute inspiration boost it’s the first place I turn. TED talks have taught me so much – about social change, technology, happiness. But they have been especially valuable to me in my journey as an entrepreneur. Being able to directly and easily connect with women who have gone before me and created great, incredible companies is so very inspiring and motivating. Especially when they talk about how they started, the huge challenges they surmounted, and the things that got them through the lows.

So – I thought I’d share my top 5 favourite TED talks for women budding entrepreneurs.

1) Gayle Tzemach Lemmon: Women Entrepreneurs, Example Not Exception

 

I love this – ‘we do not invest in victims, we invest in survivors’. Women make strong, powerful entrepreneurs, not just ‘mum-preneurs’, or micro-financed business owners – entrepreneurs.

 

2) Elizabeth Gilbert: Your Elusive Creative Genius

 

A beautiful, uplifting talk – especially good for times you’re feeling a bit lost or anxious or helpless in the direction of your business. You really need to watch this one – trust me!

 

3) Jessica Jackley: Poverty, Money—and Love

 

Kiva is an amazing story, and it started out as just an idea. But the ripple of change it has created across the world is phenomenal. Jessica has a moment of emotion as well, and its powerful to see the true passion she has for her cause.

 

4) Sheryl Sandberg: Why we have too few women leaders

 

I’m such a big fan of Sheryl Sandberg, COO of Facebook. If you’ve read her book ‘Lean In’ you will love this – she has three powerful pieces of advice for women aiming high.

 

5) Leymah Gbowee: Unlock the intelligence, passion, greatness of girls

 

This one is my favourite. This one will move you and stir your passion to change the world – I promise.

 

Did I miss some great ones? Share your fav TED talks below!

7 Amazing School Girls Who Are Changing the World

You might have seen the viral ‘Like A Girl’ video and campaign recently – and if you haven’t, stop what you are doing and google it right now! Basically, it calls into question some pretty disempowering phrases about girls that have become cemented in our communication – ‘throw like a girl’, ‘run like a girl’, ‘hit like a girl’ etc. There’s been this (more…)

How to Find Your Life’s Purpose (from someone who did!)

One question I’m often asked by interviewers and supporters is ‘How did you know that the idea for Words With Heart was ‘it’ for you?’ I suppose it’s the kinda question that we’re all looking for the answer to at some point in our lives – what are we passionate enough about to invest all of our time and energy and resources in for decades and decades to come? Or, in it’s simplest form – ‘How do I find my life’s purpose?’.

(more…)

7 of the Most Inspirational Women in History

Need some Monday inspiration? Surfing through the pages of history, there are innumerable women who have contributed towards society, politics, sports, fashion, society and pretty much the world in general. Some you’ve probably heard of before, but there are others who’s enormous successes have been hidden away. Here’s a list of seven such inspiring women who struggled, paved the way, and made their own destiny.

1. Victoria Woodhull

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“Women, no less than men, can qualify herself for the more onerous occupations  of life. ” – Victoria Woodhull (1838-1927)

Although little known today, American suffragist Victoria Woodhull was the first woman to ever run for President of the United States in 1872. She made a fortune with her sister on the New York Stock Exchange and was one of the first women to open a Wall Street brokerage firm and they were among the first women to have found a newspaper, Woodhull & Claflin’s Weekly, which began publication in 1870. Woodhull went from rags to riches twice, her first fortune being made on the road as a highly successful magnetic healer before she joined the spiritualist movement in the 1870s. She was honored by the Office of the Manhattan Borough President in March 2008 and was included in a map of historical sites related or dedicated to important women.

2. Helen Rubinstein

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“Hard work keeps the wrinkles out of the mind and spirit.” – Helena Rubinstein (1870-1965)

Helena Rubinstein, born as Chaja Rubinstein was a Polish-born American business magnate. A cosmetics entrepreneur, she was the founder and eponym of Helena Rubinstein, Incorporated, which made her one of the world’s richest women. Rubinstein emigrated from Poland to Australia in 1902, with no money and little English. Her stylish clothes and milky complexion did not pass unnoticed among the town’s ladies, however, and she soon found enthusiastic buyers for the jars of beauty cream in her luggage. Spotting a market, she began to make her own.

3. Coco Chanel

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“Fashion fades, only style remains the same.” – Coco Chanel (1883-1971)

Coco Chanel, born as Gabrielle Bonheur Chanel,was a French fashion designer and founder of the Chanel brand. Along with Paul Poiret, Chanel was credited with liberating women from the constraints of the “corseted silhouette” and popularizing the acceptance of a sportive, casual chic as the feminine standard in the post-World War I era. A prolific fashion creator, Chanel’s influence extended beyond couture clothing. Her design aesthetic was realized in jewelry, handbags, and fragrance. She is the only fashion designer listed on Time magazine’s list of the 100 most influential people of the 20th century.

4. Amelia Earhart

Amelia Earhart

“Please know that I am aware of the hazards. I want to do it because I want to do it. Women must try to do things as men have tried. When they fail, their failure must be a challenge to others.” – Amelia Earhart (1897-1937)

Earhart was the first female aviator to fly solo across the Atlantic Ocean. She  received the U.S. Distinguished Flying Cross for this record. Thereafter, she joined  the faculty of Purdue University in 1935 as a visiting faculty member to counsel  women on careers and as a technical advisor to the Department of Aeronautics.  She also wrote best-selling books about her flying experiences and was  instrumental in the formation of The Ninety-Nines, an organization for female  pilots.

5. Ayn Rand

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“The question isn’t who is going to let me; it’s who is going to stop me”- Ayn Rand    (1905 – 1982)

Ayn Rand born Alisa Zinov’yevna Rosenbaum was a Russian-American novelist, philosopher, playwright, and screenwriter. She is known for her two best-selling novels, The Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged, and for developing a philosophical system she called Objectivism. The Objectivist movement attempts to spread her ideas, both to the public and in academic settings. She has been a significant influence among libertarians and American conservatives. After graduating from high school in the Crimea at 16, Rand returned with her family to Petrograd (as Saint Petersburg was renamed at that time), where they faced desperate conditions, on occasion nearly starving.
After the Russian Revolution, universities were opened to women, allowing Rand to be in the first group of women to enrol at Petrograd State University, where, at the age of only 16, she began her studies in the department of social pedagogy, majoring in history and when on to writing some of her best books.

6. Rosa Parks

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“I have learned this over the years that when one’s mind is made up, this diminishes fear; knowing what must be done does away with fear” – Rosa Parks  (1913 – 2005)

Rosa Louise McCauley Parks was an African-American Civil Rights activist, whom the United States Congress called “the first lady of civil rights” and “the mother of the freedom movement”. Parks refused to obey bus driver James F. Blake’s order, in Montgomery, to give up her seat in the colored section to a white passenger, after the white section was filled. Parks’ act of defiance and the Montgomery Bus Boycott became important symbols of the modern Civil Rights Movement. She became an international icon of resistance to racial segregation. She organized and collaborated with civil rights leaders, including Edgar Nixon, president of the local chapter of the NAACP; and Martin Luther King, Jr., a new minister in town who gained national prominence in the civil rights movement.

Parks received national recognition, including the NAACP’s 1979 Spingarn Medal, the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the
Congressional Gold Medal, and a posthumous statue in the United States Capitol’s National Statuary Hall. Upon her death in 2005, she was the first woman and second non-U.S. government official to lie in honor at the Capitol Rotunda.

7. Margaret Thatcher

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“If you set out to be liked, you would be prepared to compromise on anything at any time, and you would achieve nothing.” – Margaret Thatcher (1925-2013)

Margaret Thatcher was the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom from 1979 to 1990 and the Leader of the Conservative Party from 1975 to 1990. She was the longest-serving British Prime Minister of the 20th century and is the only woman to have held the office. A Soviet journalist called her the “Iron Lady”, a nickname that became associated with her uncompromising politics and leadership style. As Prime Minister, she implemented policies that have come to be known as Thatcherism. Her political philosophy and economic policies emphasized deregulation (particularly of the financial sector), flexible labor markets, the privatization of state-owned companies, and reducing the power and influence of trade unions.

Who are your favourite women from history?

5 Simple Steps to Shift from Eco Overwhelm to Eco Warrior

“Embrace that you are an ordinary women that can do the absolute extraordinary” Lucy Perry

I recently attended an event called Women Leading Change. As you can imagine by the title the speakers were incredible. They spoke of authenticity, self care, mindset, self acceptance, being of service to others among so much more. I am going to need at least a week to let it all sink in. My mind was just blown away with the wisdom they so generously shared.

It got me thinking about how I can apply this to my eco lifestyle journey and how I do my best to live in harmony with our earth and our oceans. How can I articulate my message in a way that is kind, loving and creates unity not separation?

Something I have realised for a while now is that when it comes to changing or shifting an area of your life so much comes down to mindset. We can so easily be overwhelmed by what living an Eco friendly life entails. You have to be organised, creative, willing to step out of your comfort zone and try new things (menstrual cups anyone?!). There are highs and there are lows just like anything in life.

By cultivating an Eco-friendly mindset you can reduce your overwhelm. It all comes down to these 5 simple steps I want to share with you.

5 steps to cultivating your Eco-friendly mindset

1) Find your why

Why do you want to live an Eco friendly life? What motivates you? Is it your health, your kids, your dog? Or maybe you love walks in nature and hate seeing it trashed. No matter what it is, If you are feeling overwhelmed or you need some inspiration to take your Eco journey to the next level, Tap into your why. Ask yourself those questions. Write it down. Put it in your journal or on a post it note. Pop it on the fridge. That way you can always remind yourself why you are doing this.

2) Love/ kindness

We must come from a place of love in all that we do, whether it’s picking up rubbish off the beach for the love of our oceans or not beating ourselves up when we forget to take our reusable bags to the supermarket. We have to lift ourselves up, be gentle, kind and compassionate towards ourselves and others when we live this journey. You will make mistakes. Plastic will make its way into your home. Be kind, be gentle, and know that you can make a better choice next time.

3) Find your Courage

Sometimes we have to dig deep to find courage to move forward on our eco journey. Getting out of our comfort zone can bring up a lot of uncomfortable feelings. Deciding to use baking soda and apple cider vinegar on my hair was terrifying the first time (probably because I forgot to dilute the ACV, and it got into my eyes and stung for an hour) but I seriously thought I was going to end up with a huge birds nest on my head. Luckily for me, I got the courage to take the plunge and my hair has never felt better.

4) Health/ wellness

We must look after ourselves before we can look after another, including our planet. If we are run down, stressed and sleep deprived we won’t be able to give 100% of ourselves to anything or anyone. I remember a few weeks ago I was down and out with a cold. A couple of times that week I forgot to take my reusable bags to the supermarket. I got to the check out and was instantly hit with green guilt (that sinking feeling in your gut that you get anytime you don’t make a planet positive choice). I don’t do it often but I know I’m way more likely to forget my reusable bags, cup etc when my head is foggy and I feel like crap.

5) Community

We can achieve so much more together than we can ever achieve alone. Share your experiences with your Eco soul sisters, friends and family. Join some supportive Facebook groups that share Eco tips, recipes and inspiration. The more we can create a community around living lighter on the planet the better for our Mother Earth, right?

All of these steps are so intrinsically linked together, choose one and start with that. Make it fun and remember every time you make a planet positive choice mother earth is smiling at you.

How do you cultivate your Eco-friendly mindset ? What would you add to this list?

Regan Jade xx

Regan Jade Taylor is a Marine Biologist and Eco-Wellness Coach.

Her site reganjade.com is a space for ocean loving women to learn how to get out of overwhelm and transition to a toxic free life that nourishes you while looking after our beautiful oceans. She makes it fun, easy and fashionable for the modern eco-warrior.

www.reganjade.com

www.facebook.com/reganjade.ecowellness

www.instagram.com/regan.jade

www.pinterest.com/reganjadeeco

 

Awesome Women – Interview with Carmen Hawker, General Manager of The Global Women’s Project

In light of the tragedy unfolding in Nepal at the moment, we’ve got a special post in the Awesome Women Series for you. Carmen Hawker, General Manager of The Global Women’s Project, had actually been kind enough to agree to this interview a few weeks ago, but we wanted to get it up as soon as possible to share her incredible story with you, along with the amazing work she is currently undertaking as part of The Global Women’s Project emergency response in Nepal. She is one amazing woman, and sure to inspire.
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What’s your story? Tell us a little bit about yourself.
My story. Wow. Well, I’m hoping it’s only a quarter of my story so far at the ripe old age of 26, but that was very nearly not the case last year! I had been passionately working away for a few years in the women’s health sector in family violence service coordination and prevention of violence against women with a BA and a Masters of International Relations (Gender) under my belt – and I could feel myself starting to burn out. I’d been privileged enough to travel a lot as a kid so didn’t feel the same urge to travel in my late teens or early 20s as many of my friends but at 25 I decided to take off and travel around Southeast Asia for three months.
My plan was to do a bit of solo travel to get out of my comfort zone and also to spend time travelling with my lifelong friend Alice and my beautiful partner Sam. Two and a half months into my trip I was starting to flag after having an incredible, but rather hectic, time travelling through Burma, Laos, Thailand and working with The Global Women’s Project’s grassroots partner Stung Treng Women’s Development Centre in Cambodia. I arrived in Kathmandu, Nepal, at midnight on March 13 for the final leg of my trip. On the agenda was some work with our amazing partner, the Women’s Foundation Nepal, and a trek in Pokhara. Well, let’s just say the universe had other plans. I had a splitting headache when I arrived and after attempting to brush it off for 36 hours, it wouldn’t budge and was getting a whole lot worse. So my gorgeous, and now life-saving, friend Alice packed up my things and threw me in the back of a taxi and asked the driver to take us to a hospital.
As it turned out I didn’t have an ordinary headache. I had two gigantic blood clots almost completely blocking the two central veins in my brain. The next three and a half weeks were a blur. I spent almost a month in ICU there in a pitch black isolation room where it looked, for all intents and purposes, that I was going to die from a stroke or be severely impaired. Luckily, my body responded like a boss. I survived, luckily. I was then medically evacuated back to Australia to begin a very, very long recovery process! So I guess that’s not a little about myself, but that’s my ‘story,’ thus far in a nutshell.
What made you want to start up The Global Women’s Project?
Well it was actually started by two incredible women, Kate Williams and Briony Mackenzie, and I just happened to be in the right place at the right time! That time and place was queuing for chais at Seven Sisters Festival. I was practically recruited on the spot and joined the team alongside another absolute superstar called Lauren (there’s obviously something about Laurens – they tend to be amazing!). It was a magical moment and one I’ll never forget. I met my soul sisters that day and the rest is history, as they say.
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What has been your biggest success and biggest challenge?
One of my biggest challenges has been to find sustainability and balance in my approach to work. I like to work hard, I like to feel like I’m achieving something and I like to be all things to all people. This just isn’t possible and I’ve had to learn that the hard way. I burnt out, went travelling to regenerate and nearly found myself not here to tell the tale.
Ironically, nearly dying was the best thing that ever happened to me. My experience in Nepal last year forced me to re-evaluate my entire life. I know all too well that everything can be taken away from you in an instant. So ‘If not now, when?’ became my (wo)mantra and I’ve had to make some very difficult decisions and major changes. One of those was giving up my paid work, which I enjoyed and at an organisation that I loved, to focus solely on The Global Women’s Project and my recovery. This decision, although extremely difficult, was incredibly liberating and has unleashed an energy and decisiveness that I’ve not had before. I feel as if I’ve finally been able to step into my own power.
So here I am, the General Manager Australia of The Global Women’s Project, working almost seven days a week for free! That’s a pretty damn big success out of a major challenge!
Any advice for women wanting to start up their own charity?
Do it. Don’t be afraid. Be part of something bigger than yourself.
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Carmen’s inspirational workspace with her Words With Heart notebook.

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Who inspires you?
A line of damn strong women in my family who are resilient and compassionate beyond belief. And, of course, the people I have the honour of working alongside, the women we work with in Nepal and Cambodia and all of the badass trailblazers who’ve come before me.
Do have some ‘words with heart’ to leave us with?
There is nothing like the solidarity of the sisterhood. There just isn’t.
Where can we go to find out more about The Global Women’s Project?
Well, as we know, there was a devastating Earthquake in Nepal on Saturday that has left thousands dead, many more thousands injured and millions displaced in need of urgent assistance. Our fearless Director Briony lives and works alongside the Women’s Foundation Nepal and was in Kathmandu as disaster struck. We were actually talking at the time. Briony just sprung into action and with the team here in Australia, we started a Nepal Emergency Appeal to provide women and their families with urgent assistance & supplies in the critical days following the quake. We have been overwhelmed by the response to our Appeal and by the incredible generosity of people wanting to donate and support our efforts on the ground.
We have developed a targeted response to the specific needs of women, who are disproportionately affected by natural disasters, and are providing a gendered lens to relief and recovery efforts across Nepal. With WFN, we are doing everything we can to support women and their families through this horrendous time by using our donations and injecting them into the local economy to buy supplies and facilitate community and women-led solutions to relief and recovery.
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The GWP relief response to the Nepal earthquake.

The GWP relief response to the Nepal earthquake.

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A lot is often written and said about women’s vulnerability during natural disasters but that overlooks the crucial role women play in disaster management and risk reduction and how incredibly resilient they are. Women are amazing and we have never been so convinced of this having overseen what has happened across Nepal in this past week.
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While the funds raised through our Appeal will go towards meeting the immediate needs of women and their families in the wake of this disaster, let us assure you – we are there for the long haul. We are a sustainable development organisation that focuses on long-term grassroots partnerships and we ain’t going anywhere! For more information about the Appeal, please visit our website: http://theglobalwomensproject.com.au/donate/

10 Inspiring Quotes from Remarkable Women

Women wear a lot of hats. They undertake many different roles – mothers, daughters, executives, dreamers, doers etc. Following is a list of favourite inspirational quotes from successful women around the world, who did not give up and made it big.

long distance swimmer Diana Nyad

1) ‘I am willing to put myself through anything, temporary pain or discomfort means nothing to me as long as I can see that the experience will take me to a new level. I am interested in the unknown, and the only path to the unknown is through breaking barriers, an often painful process.’

Diana Nyad (American author, journalist and long distance swimmer) Image Source

2) ‘Never give up, for that is just the place and time that the tide will turn.’

Harriet Beecher Stowe (19th century author, activist and abolitionist)


Eleanor Roosevelt

3) ‘I could not, at any age, be content to take my place by the fireside and simply look on. Life was meant to be lived. Curiosity must be kept alive. One must never, for whatever reason, turn his back on life.’

Eleanor Roosevelt (Politician, diplomat and activist) Image Source

4) ‘I used to think I was the strangest person in the world but then I thought there are so many people in the world, there must be someone just like me who feels bizarre and flawed in the same ways I do. I would imagine her, and imagine that she must be out there thinking of me too. Well, I hope that if you are out there and read this and know that, yes, it’s true I’m here, and I’m just as strange as you.’

Frida Kahlo – (Mexican artist and feminist)

5) ‘Define success on your own terms, achieve it by your own rules, and build a life you’re proud to live.’

Anne Sweeney – (Former President of Disney-ABC Television Group)

6) ‘I don’t believe in guilt, I believe in living on impulse as long as you never intentionally hurt another person, and don’t judge people in your life. I think you should live completely free.’

Angelina Jolie – (Everyone knows Angelina Jolie!)

Google's Marissa Mayer Named Yahoo CEO

7) ‘I always did something I was a little not ready to do. I think that’s how you grow. When there’s that moment of ‘Wow, I’m not really sure I can do this,’ and you push through those moments, that’s when you have a breakthrough.’

Marissa Mayer (CEO of Yahoo) Image source

8) ‘I learned to always take on things I’d never done before. Growth and comfort do not coexist.’

Virginia Rometty (CEO of IBM)

9) ‘Freeing yourself was one thing; claiming ownership of that freed self was another.’

Toni Morrison (Novelist, editor and professor)

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10) ‘We need to accept that we won’t always make the right decisions, that we’ll screw up royally sometimes – understanding that failure is not the opposite of success, it’s part of success.’

Arianna Huffington (Co-founder and Editor-in-chief of The Huffington Post) Image Source

Meet the Team: Akanksha

Hi there! My name is Akanksha, I’m 25 years old and I’m the new Official Blogger for Words With Heart. I am from India and that is where I have been throughout my life until I came to Australia. I am an electronics engineer and have worked in a multinational manufacturing firm in India for 3 years. I wanted to study further and gain an international exposure, and that’s why I headed for Australia.

The reason behind me wanting to get associated with Words of Heart is the social cause that drives the business. The idea of linking the business with a social cause related to women and girls is what appealed to me the most. I have been a part of such projects back home and it gave me immense joy to contribute towards something that I strongly believe in.

I come from a family that has always supported me in whatever decisions I have made for myself. I was always encouraged to study and be independent in every way. However, not all girls in India are as fortunate. In India, a few states are still struggling with the problem of gender inequality in terms of literacy. According to 2011 global census, the male literacy rate is 92% and with girls it is 87%. However in India, the statistics are 82.14% for males and 65.46% for females. This is a clear demonstration of the inequality that still exists in the society. To me, women education is in direct proportion with women empowerment. Education is not luxury, but a very basic level need. Education guarantees power and independence to females. With education comes both financial and mental independence, both of which I believe are very important in a society that is male dominant. Education helps us make right choices for ourselves.

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Also, girls who are not entitled to attend schools and attain basic level education are forced to get married at a young age. Besides this, a highly unfair practice of dowry exists in the Indian society. Uneducated females cannot even retaliate to this as they feel this is the only way out. Educated females, on the other hand, are strongly against such practices. They consider themselves as equals and are looked upon with respect in the society. Education, therefore, is every girl’s right. When women earn for themselves, they are not looked upon as someone who are always to be taken care of which in turn changes the outlook of people towards them. In a nutshell, each girl deserves to be educated. It is every girl’s right. Educating girls will add to the development of the society and a nation, in large.

I am fortunate to get an opportunity with Words of Heart through which I will get a chance to express myself on a public portal. I am eager to share some great content with you, interviews and Words With Heart news. This is a cause that is close to my heart and I am looking forward to enjoying every bit of this journey!

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