#WhatIReallyReallyWant: GIRL POWER!

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July 16, 2016

Whenever I hear the phrase “Girl Power”, the first thing that comes to mind is the Spice Girls posing together, flashing peace signs. Although the phrase was coined prior to Spice Girl mania, there is no question about the fact that the Spice Girls were the ones responsible for popularizing the widespread use of the term, during the mid-1990’s. The phrase grew to become so popular that it actually landed itself a home in the dictionary, where it’s defined as “the idea that women and girls should be confident, make decisions, and achieve things independently of men.”

Girl power rests upon the fundamental notion of female empowerment. And for that reason, I find it absolutely brilliant that The United Nations Global Goals For Sustainable Development managed to work the Spice Girls into their latest campaign to promote awareness for Goal 5, which seeks to achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls.

As part of the Global Goals campaign for girls and women, Project Everyone, Getty Images, and the global cinema advertising association SAWA partnered together to produce an amazing music video titled “#WhatIReallyReallyWant”. The video uses the famous Spice Girls hit song “Wannabe”, and features female artists from around the world. Throughout the background of the video, there are images calling for some of the things girls and women “really, really want”, which include ending child marriage and violence against girls, quality education for all girls, and equal pay for equal work. These are some, but not all, of the targets outlined by the United Nations in Goal 5.

The video is very well done. So well done that former Spice Girl members and other celebrities began endorsing and sharing the video, declaring their support for gender equality initiatives, and reiterating the important messages the video aims to deliver.

Along with the video, this campaign seeks to encourage girls and women to share a photo of themselves (or a piece of paper) stating what they really, really want for girls and women, using the hashtag #WhatIReallyReally. All images featuring that hashtag will be shown to the world leaders meeting at the UN in September 2016.

Goal 5, Gender Equality, became part of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development in September of last year, when leaders from around the world gathered in New York at the United Nations Headquarters. The leaders in attendance reached an agreement on 17 specific goals and targets to achieve by year 2030, which are referred to as the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (also known as SDG’s or Global Goals). These goals tackle a wide range of issues, and highlight the need for transformative and universal change on behalf of not only the national leaders, but everyone around the world.

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Thanks to live streaming capabilities, I was able to virtually attend both the Women Deliver Conference and The United State of Women Summit a couple months ago, where  the importance of investing in women and girls was a topic that was repeatedly brought to the table. A conversation I never get sick of hearing.

During the Women Deliver Conference, Dr. David Nabarro, Special Advisor on the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development touched directly on the topic of investing in girls and women, and how this is one of the most important investments. Dr. Nabarro described the 2030 Agenda as “a plan that is like a tapestry, that goes right across the totality of human experience, and right at the centre, is girls and women”. Nabarro argued that unless girls and women are given the best possible support and investment, they will be unable to contribute to the future of our world in the way they need to:

“It’s investing in girls and women that’s the key. In order to do that, what’s the most important thing? It’s for girls and women to be able to enjoy good health, to be able to make reproductive choices, to exercise their rights, and if that is done than the economic gains are huge – at least ten times greater return on investment. And at the same time, the countries themselves, if they’ve got healthy women who are able to enjoy well-being and to exercise their reproductive rights, they will be able to undergo the kind of development that is necessary for the future of our world.”

To me, it’s an absolute no-brainer to invest in girls and women, because the unfortunate reality is that millions and millions of girls and women around the world are unable to fully contribute to progressive development, as a result of denied access to education, forced harmful practices from a young age, and feelings of disempowerment as a result of their circumstances and cultural traditions. Due to such, we are missing a very large portion of the population which could be participating and contributing to advancing the Sustainable Development Goals, and this is extremely problematic. Imagine what we could do if we had an extra 60,000,000 girls and women helping us work towards these global goals? The possibilities are truly endless. Plus, we all know there is no force more powerful than a strong, educated, and empowered woman!

Please join me to help make some noise in order to raise awareness for the Gender Equality Sustainable Development Goal. Get your friends and family involved too! Use the hashtag #WhatIReallyReallyWant, and tell the world what issues matter to YOU! The more noise we make, the more pressure placed on national leaders to adopt and enforce concrete legislation promoting gender equality at all levels, and in all countries. When women do better, everyone does better…so what are you waiting for?!  Let’s get to it!

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Women of Influence: My First Evening Series Event!

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When I first got the idea for beginning my blog, I devoted a good portion of time to researching websites and online resources created specifically for women. As this site becomes more and more developed, I plan to create and dedicate an entire page to exactly that. Whether it’s resources dedicated to personal finance, education, or body positivity, or more serious issues like sexual assault or domestic violence, my ultimate goal is to gather as many informative online resources for young females and women to have at their fingertips and become familiar with. So while I was conducting this research, and gathering a list of websites I found to be of interest, I stumbled upon Women of Influence.

What I found so intriguing by the site was the fact that it is essentially an all-encompassing package of everything needed to become a successful, well-rounded, businesswoman. WOI hosts inspiring and educational events, they offer development programs which can be tailored to your organizations needs, they write insightful articles on relevant and important issues, and their network boasts a large number of powerful professional women and celebrities alike. While scoping their website trying to learn more about their community and what they do, I came across the Women of Influence Evening Series event featuring keynote speaker Lesley-Anne Scorgie. I knew I HAD to go. The ticket price ($55.00) wasn’t too steep, especially when you consider the valuable financial advice you walk out the door with (and the free wine provided by Corby Spirits & Wine). But I was lucky enough to score a free ticket because my brother happened to know the keynote speaker personally, and she was kind enough to send me a ticket!

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My brother is a personal finance expert, and knows absolutely everything and anything related to money, investments, and saving. He is a role model to me and I am constantly inspired by his self-discipline when it comes to saving. Myself on the other hand, I’m the complete opposite. I really, really love to shop, and I have always been an impulse buyer. But over the past year, I’ve taken my head out of the clouds and I have come to the realization that personal finance is something I really need to pay more, and serious, attention to. Although I could sit down with my brother and ask for his financial advice anytime, I thought hearing it from someone I didn’t know would be more powerful, and really help to drive home the point. And boy was I right!

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It was so inspiring listening to Lesley-Ann speak about her story, and discuss not only the highs, but also the lows of her journey, which led her to where she is today. What really resonated with me, was her discussion on the topic of dealing with rejection, and how important it is to keep persevering through the bad. She mentioned being rejected thirty nine times when attempting to publish her book, and how the rejection fueled her appetite to not give up. Although I have always advocated and believed in that same idea to keep going no matter what, sometimes I find it very hard not to get down and discouraged when things don’t go as smooth as I had hoped, and it was a nice reminder to stay positive. Another aspect of her discussion I found interesting was her emphasis on not dwelling on the past. Typically, this is always easier said than done. But Scorgie really emphasized the fact that we shouldn’t ruminate on our past financial mistakes and mis-balanced cheque books. Instead, she suggests we should focus on moving forward and minimizing the chance of repeating our financial mistakes of the past, by creating financial plans for the future (hint: our new best friend should become the word ‘budget’).

Lesley-Anne also let us in on the financial secrets that all self-made millionaire women have in common, and her speech was followed by a panel discussion, which then opened up to questions from the crowd. Following the questions, there was a ‘connecting activity’, which encouraged everyone in the room to go network and meet some new people. While everyone was mingling, Lesley-Anne headed to the back of the room where a large line formed to purchase copies of her books (including her newest book Modern Couples Money Guide) and have them signed by her.

All in all, it was such a wonderful experience attending last nights Women of Influence Evening Series event, and I had the privilege of meeting some really great women. Not only did the keynote speaker do an amazing job, but aside from that, WOI and all the sponsors did a great job as well! The venue – The Grand Banking Hall of One King West Hotel & Residence – was absolutely stunning, and I definitely spent a good amount of time admiring the beautiful chandeliers and detailed architectural work. Corby Spirits & Wine kept the wine flowing all evening, Shoppers Drug Mart was there doing makeup touch ups and tutorials, and Smith School of Business (part of Queen’s University) had a table set up to discuss some of the programs they offer to help advance your career. There was a VIP giveaway basket featuring goodies from all the sponsors totaling just under $3000, and another prize for the winner of the ‘Social Media Contest’ (wherin the winner was selected from all the quotes and pictures posted on social media using the hashtag #WOIEvening). There were also swag bags on the way out, which had a Women of Influence Magazine as well as a Glow Magazine, and an investment pamphlet and cute little booklet from Scotia Bank, with sticky notes and notepad paper inside.

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Right before leaving, I stuck around for a bit so I could get in a quick word with Lesley-Ann, and kindly thank her for my ticket and see if she could sign my book I brought.

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It’s quite evident from hearing her speak and seeing her interact with all the event attendees that she is such a humble and down to earth woman, considering all she has accomplished. I absolutely cannot wait for the next Women of Influence Evening Series event (although from the website it doesn’t seem like it will be anytime soon), and I am so excited to see who the keynote speakers in the future will be. I highly recommend taking some time to visit the Women of Influence website, even if you’re not from Canada, because the great articles they have on their site will still be valuable and a great read for any female. For more about Lesley-Ann, you can head on over to her personal website or http://www.mevest.ca. I’m just beginning her book Well-Heeled, so stay tuned for an upcoming post on that!

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