What would the world look like without women’s tenacity and unique abilities? It would be even more chaotic and conflicting than it already is.
March 8 was International Women’s Day and the month of March is recognized as Women’s History (Appreciation) Month. Although there was a lot of talk about this topic, the truth is that they deserve more than just one special-day-a-year or even a month to celebrate the accomplishments, perseverance and nature of women. Because, sometimes, all the nice things that are done or said on that special occasion are not in sync with everyday life as much as they should.
We purposefully post this article in the middle of April to show that International Women’s History (Appreciation) M_____ is not a month, yet a mindset. And it is a mindset that should last all year long!
The first thing that must be done to celebrate women with dignity is to make them feel safe and protected, assuring them that they have someone to turn to when their rights are violated. Day after day we see many cases of disrespect, inequality and abuse that, although may achieve a certain level of media coverage and generate indignation, end up going unpunished, leading to an almost endless cycle.
Women must have the same opportunities as men do, and they cannot be discriminated for due to their human nature: the unique and beautiful gift of giving birth. If we think about it, women have that incredible ability of being capable to perfectly balance and master their family and professional life… way more than men! After all, they are innate managers, educators, leaders, nurses, storytellers…
The third thing is that our education system teaches children that people are equally talented, regardless of their gender, and that they deserve the same rights and opportunities at a personal and professional level. And yes, there have been positive outcomes, but women are still struggling to succeed in some fields, especially in male-dominated industries.
Therefore, it is worth reviewing some key points to make sure that all the progress society has made won’t lose momentum, particularly within the complex corporate world.
Hereinafter, we summarize the 8 major challenges women face in business, according to Forbes.
1. Limited Funding: Women businesses are among the leading ventures that lack financial support. It is common for women to be denied loans because of gender and cultural biases—many institutions tend to fund male-owned businesses. At A&P, we have partnered with a non-profit organization that can help women owned businesses get access to capital easier and faster. Learn more.
2. Balancing Responsibilities: Many women are not just entrepreneurs or career people—they have families, spouses, and other responsibilities. Demands from personal and professional commitments can pressure a woman to abandon either her business or family. Although men also have these other responsibilities, it has become clear that in most instances women will prioritize their family, while men prioritize their jobs.
3. Fear of Failure: Fear of the known and the unknown is a major issue for women. They dread failing, especially if the people surrounding them were skeptical of their capability in business. This fear is toxic and perilous, because women may end up operating from a place of fear instead of confidence. However, when women are fired and driven with confidence, there is nothing that can keep them from reaching their dreams.
4. Inadequate Support System: Women tend to face the greatest challenges in getting support, from lacking the relevant connections, needing financial access, or emotional support. Business coaching has helped business grow despite inadequate support from peers and community initiatives. Coaching focuses on the needs of that one individual rather than an initiative that keeps compliance.
5. Gender Inequality: In many industries, women have to work harder than men to reach certain leadership positions and aspirations, while facing stigma and discrimination. Although laws and policies have been put in place to create a favorable business environment for everyone, the reality is that not all efforts and initiatives are working in alignment to create a culture of equality across Corporate America.
6. Limited Knowledge: Empowering a woman with knowledge is just the beginning of a long journey to business success. Unfortunately, women’s access to this information and emerging knowledge has been and in many areas continue to be limited. This is why we must work together to provide the necessary education and business best practices for women to have what they need to succeed.
7. Unfavorable Business Environment: Among the challenges that women experience are less-established business networks, and social and traditional constraints that restrict women’s participation in business. In some countries, women may be required to have a male partner that will handle deals, negotiations, and be the public face of the business. Fortunately, there are more and more opportunities for women in business to connect, learn and grow their 100% women-owned business.
8. Timidity: Women who strive and succeed are often shy about sharing their accomplishments. They are afraid of being labeled as proud or boastful people when they should have people who will celebrate them and lift them up for the hard work they put in to reach their goals.
In conclusion, celebrating women means assuring them that they can feel at ease and fulfill their dreams; that there is justice and opportunities for them; and, that they are supported and respected. This is not just a month long “initiative”, but must be a mindset for all people. We are all people with something to give. We should have access to the tools and resources to make the most out of our gifts. And our accomplishments should be celebrated always, together. Not separated, yet united.
Celebrate Women All Year Round. It is a Mindset!
Juan Pablo Benítez Quintero
Translation Services Coordinator