It happens every year right around Oct. 1. I’m inundated with pink and purple ribbons, emails and texts to contribute to very worthy causes. And then there are the stories — too many stories.
Welcome to October, the month when women are constantly reminded of how hard it is to be … a woman.
October is not only National Domestic Violence Awareness Month but it’s also Breast Cancer Awareness Month. October: A reminder of how — despite the clarion call to close the gender gap in research — there are still not enough resources devoted to women’s health.
October: A reminder of how many women suffer at the hands of others and from a system that does not always serve them when it’s needed most.
How about a new awareness in October. Instead of seeing ourselves and our issues as victim’s issues, let’s switch the narrative to make October Women Warriors Month.
Because for every pink or purple ribbon and sad story, I also see women fighting for resources for research and health care — and their lives. I see women fighting to be treated with respect and celebrated for what they bring to the world.
And I see other women fighting on their behalf.
Most important, I see women warrior leaders making a difference in business, nonprofits and in their communities. In October, we should celebrate those companies, organizations and women who are leading the way, as well as leading a battle cry for all women with grit and grace.
Women like Elaine Spaull and Meghan Mundy, who partner together to produce Fashion Week of Rochester to benefit the Center for Youth for 10 years running — proving that two women can lead and work together for years and not only thrive in their leadership but love their cause, their creativity, and each other.
Women like Sharon Napier and Courtney Cotrupe, who just announced their new roles at the advertising agency, Partners + Napier, as chairman and CEO — proving that women can lead and grow great companies and support each other to create great possibilities for continued growth not only for their organization but for their community.
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And women like Jaime Saunders, who leads the United Way of Rochester and before that Willow Domestic Violence Center — proving that women can grow their own leadership to have an even greater impact on an entire community.
For companies that focus on women’s health, October is like Christmas for retailers. Jane Mazur, vice president of communications at Hologic Inc., a medical device company focused on women’s health, says she wants to make sure that what breaks through all the clutter is the importance of hearing from those who are actively trying to change the dialogue and make a difference.
She wants the message of prevention to be heard: “I would love for everyone to make their annual mammogram appointments in October, but there’s only 31 days in the month — so, I spend my whole year highlighting and working for women to pay attention to their health every day.”
I asked Leslie Morgan Steiner, New York Times best-selling author of “Crazy Love and The Naked Truth,” for her take. She wrote, “I love being a woman, but the deck of life is stacked against us in so many ways, largely due to widespread cultural pressures and ignorance of problems women face. October is an ‘awareness month’ that provides a great example of challenges (and gross underinvestment in solutions) disproportionately facing women — breast cancer, domestic violence, SIDS, pregnancy loss, and more. Why not just rename October ‘I ❤ Women’ and turn all these negatives into positives?”
Exactly. Declare it in October and continue to live it every month. #WomenWarriors.
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