Reflecting on International Women's Day 2024: Lessons in Inspiring Inclusion

March 28, 2024

Article written by
Dr. Tessy Ojo CBE
Founder, Tessy's Brunches
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As we bid adieu to another International Women's Day, the echoes of this year's theme, "Inspire Inclusion," linger in our minds and hearts, urging us to reflect on the strides we've made and the paths we're yet to tread. 

Inclusion and visibility underpinned the birth of Tessy’s Brunches. Having spent over 25 years in leadership roles the corporate and not for profit sector, I understood what it meant to feel included or left out, how you could be in spaces and yet remain unseen and unheard. I had charted a saying ‘nothing about them, without them’ and began a campaign of advocating for inclusion in the broadest sense. As a female leader, I had access to spaces that was male dominated, where I could count on my fingers how many other women where present; let alone women from diverse backgrounds.

Ten years ago, I set about changing this by seeking out women ‘stuck in the middle’ who were struggling to break those glass ceilings and I committed to supporting them and we met monthly over brunch, strategizing and planning. Those monthly brunch meets, eventually became Tessy’s Brunches - where we are fervently committed to creating spaces where unseen women become visible.

Over this month, I have spoken at various events, recorded podcasts and led various discussions on this year’s theme of "Inspire Inclusion," and as we wrap up this month, I wanted to share five key lessons reflections from IWD 2024.

Lesson 1: Embrace Diversity, Foster Unity Inclusion begins with embracing the rich tapestry of diversity that encompasses womanhood. We've learned that true inclusion is not merely about representation but about valuing the myriad voices, experiences, and perspectives that make up our collective narrative. By fostering unity amidst diversity, we create a formidable force capable of surmounting any obstacle that dares to impede our progress.

Lesson 2: Elevate Every Voice Inclusion mandates that every voice be heard, regardless of its pitch or volume. We've learned that amplifying marginalised voices is not merely a gesture of goodwill but a moral imperative. At Tessy's Brunches, we've witnessed the transformative power of elevating every voice, empowering women to share their stories, insights, and aspirations unabashedly.

Lesson 3: Cultivate Empathy and Understanding To inspire inclusion, we must cultivate empathy and understanding, recognising that each woman's journey is unique and fraught with its own triumphs and tribulations. Through empathetic listening and genuine understanding, we bridge the chasm of difference, forging connections that transcend barriers of race, age, or background.

Lesson 4: Challenge Stereotypes and Bias In our pursuit of inclusion, we've learned to confront and challenge stereotypes and biases that seek to confine women within narrow confines. By dismantling these preconceived notions and advocating for equity and justice, we pave the way for a more inclusive society where every woman is free to chart her own destiny.

Lesson 5: Empower Through Mentorship and Support I believe in the transformative power of mentorship and support in nurturing the next generation of female leaders. By providing women with the tools, resources, and networks they need to thrive, we empower them to break barriers, shatter glass ceilings, and seize their rightful place at the table of success. Intentionally seek mentorship.

In conclusion, International Women's Day 2024 has imparted invaluable lessons in inspiring inclusion, reminding us that our strength lies in our unity, our diversity, and our unwavering commitment to uplifting one another. Together, we can inspire inclusion, transform lives, and shape a future where every woman is seen, heard, and celebrated for the indomitable force that she is.