Encouraging women far and near (column) | SummitDaily.com

Encouraging women far and near (column)

It was chaos. It was quiet. When nearly 45 young women converge in one spot, then abruptly depart, the two extremes should not be unexpected. Still, the silence following their parting was deafening, a good time to reflect.

The girls came from all walks of life, united in their desire to play soccer at our local high school. It was a simple team dinner where laughter enveloped the room, and youthful exuberance was not in short supply. In my mind’s eye I pictured our next generation of doctors and teachers, musicians and mothers. The event occurred, quite coincidentally, while I was doing some reading on Women’s History Month. In case you were not yet aware, March has been designated Women’s History Month, a chance to highlight the contributions women have made to history and contemporary society. Globally, International Women’s Day (March 8) is a holiday celebrated in countries from Uzbekistan to the United Kingdom. A recent Denver Post article, “‘Strong Sisters’ led the way in Colorado,” piqued my interest in these events by spotlighting the initiative and tenacity of Colorado women.

I confess, however, that I initially viewed the whole Women’s History Month hoopla with some skepticism. After all, being a woman is my lot in life, not necessarily something that required a great deal of awareness (although the thought of associated presents seemed intriguing). And while I fiercely believe in gender equality, it’s my view that individual integrity is the litmus test. I would not want opportunity to come knocking, or to be denied, solely because I am a woman. Still it happens on both ends of the spectrum, and there is nothing wrong with trying to rectify each side of the equation. Sometimes, too, all the different awareness campaigns seem to meld in my brain. Women’s History Month seemed a good alternative to Root Canal Awareness Week (also this week in case you wondered), one awareness that simply made me shudder.

Taking a look around at the young women in the room made me think again about Women’s History Month, and celebrating women’s achievements. Not just to be aware of the contributions great women have made to society, but also to recognize that hoopla can inspire others to reach their potential. Far too often it seems appreciating one person’s, or one gender’s, unique strengths in some way diminishes the other. What a tragedy. Building one another up through encouragement has nothing to do with winning, or proving that a person, or a gender, has the edge. Instead, encouragement — learning to instill confidence, support or hope — is its own high calling, one I want to work on, and that I hope our girls will learn. Women’s History Month provides the chance to underscore and celebrate the strides women have made toward equality around the world, recognizing there’s still work to be done. Awareness and encouragement doesn’t require a globe, however. I saw it happening among the young women who simply came together for dinner as a team, inspiring one another along the way.

The United Nations Theme for International Women’s Day 2015 is “Empowering Women, Empowering Humanity: Picture it!” This musing may inspire my spouse to encourage me to appreciate the importance of International’s Men’s Day, Nov. 19, just in case you were wondering. In the spirit of building one another up, I’m all for it — except if he expects presents he may have to think again.

Cindy Bargell is a mom and an attorney who lives outside of Silverthorne with her husband and two daughters. She welcomes your comments at cindy@visanibargell.com.

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