International Women’s Day has evolved a bunch since its earliest beginnings in 1909 in New York City. The landscape for women has changed pretty dramatically too—along with the subtext of what being a woman can mean, and ultimately, the subtext of what we can (and really should) be celebrating on this extra-special day.
Definitions are tricky things in that they tend to tie us up in trying to follow rules, fit in and fix what’s different, outlandish, deeply personal or just “other”. This International Women’s Day, we wanted to flip a few definitions on their head. Firstly, the idea that IWD should be about pink-frosted cupcakes, pink heart emojis and celebrating only the girl bosses out there. Today’s a day to praise women in all their diversities, faith, race, sexual identity and ability.
Secondly, we wanted to try to shift our understanding of success. Girl boss culture asks us to squeeze into a corporate cut-out of contemporary feminism and a very limited concept of female success and, like a few other problematic definitions out there, it’s the kind of patronizing gender stereotyping that feels boxed in rather than freeing or equal.
As part of our Own It event for International Women’s Day, hosted in Sydney last week, we asked four interesting women to tell us what success means to them, how confidence has played a part in their career, and how, ultimately, their best achievement is a sense of happiness in themselves and the direction they're headed.
Read it as inspiration and food for thought—and let 2020 be the year you paint your own wild and colourful but ultimately personal, vision of success.
Former AFL Giants Captain, Sports Commentator, P.E Teacher
For Amanda Farrugia, success is about being able to do what you love. "I’m a fulltime teacher, and that’s been a passion of mine and I’ve been able to balance that with my professional sporting commitments too," she explains. "So the success for me has been in being able to enjoy both of those things and ultimately, allowing both of those things to enrich my life.”
Founder and Designer, Holly Ryan Jewellery
For Sydney-based jewellery designer Holly Ryan, success is about knowing she's doing her best, but also that she's having an impact. "Success is ever-evolving for me," she says. "Right now, it’s getting to the gym in the morning, not having dishes in the sink, getting [jewellery] orders out on time. It’s when my staff want to high five me at the end of the day, it’s patting myself on the back because I’ve run a business from the ground up for the past 10 years without any investment, it’s providing a safe working environment for women in India suffering domestic violence and—it’s just knowing that I’m doing my best knowing that I’ve got a long way to go."
Founder of “She’s On The Money” Podcast
"Success is not a straight line…If I’m happy and I’m healthy and I feel like I’m having an impact, then I feel like I’m successful," Victoria Devina says. "I also think success isn’t a place that I go—it’s actually an awesome journey that I get to go on."
Founder and CEO of Tech Ready Women Academy
“Success is about being able to do what you love to do, being happy within myself and being able to spend time with my friends and family," Christie Whitehall says. "If I couldn’t do those things, I probably wouldn’t feel successful.”
Hungry for more career inspo? Jump over to our career and money section.
Image credit: Frankie Cordoba