In praise of our women

“Your playing small doesn’t serve the world. There’s nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We were born to make and manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”

This quotation follows its more famous introduction, frequently erroneously attributed to Nelson Mandela: “Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented and fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God.”

These inspirational words were actually penned by Marianne Williamson, a spiritual teacher, author and lecturer.  Her life certainly attests to her words: she has published ten books, with four New York Times number one bestsellers among them; she is the founder of Project Angel Food, serving homebound AIDS sufferers in Los Angeles; she is the co-founder of The Peace Alliance and serves on the board of the RESULTS organisation, aiming to end poverty around the world. She is the driver behind Sister Giant, a series of seminars and teaching sessions that provide women with tools and information to be political candidates.

You may wonder why I am giving you an account of this woman’s achievements.  It is because I want to honour women, as we anticipate Women’s Day.

I am in the privileged position of having a career in which people give me a glimpse into their lives: jobs and relationships, challenges and dreams.  Time and time again, I stand amazed at the resilience and courage of the women I meet.  There are wives who have supported husbands through health hazards, retrenchments, financial crises, a loss of purpose. There are mothers who have raised children with tremendous love, who have weathered the loss of a child through addiction or death.  There are women who have built highly successful careers, often against tremendous odds.  And there are the women, often unacknowledged, who simply create joy and harmony in their families by nourishing, nurturing, designing, planting, growing, establishing … the effects of their commitment and caring are felt for generations on, and are frequently unnoticed in their lifetimes.

So, in this month of August, I say thank you to our women clients and staff for all they bring to their families, this company, their communities, and, ultimately, our country. Thank you especially to Sue Leuner, who shares her story in this issue of Inflight (we have just heard that she has already won a Gold medal in the 100m swim and a Bronze in the 800m!).  In the spirit of those 20 000 women whom marched to the Union Buildings in 1956, I encourage all our women – recognise your intrinsic worth and the value you bring … you can change the world.  To repeat the words of Marianne Williamson: “As we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”

I leave you with an inspiring quotation by another admired woman, Eleanor Roosevelt:  “We gain strength, and courage, and confidence by each experience in which we really stop to look fear in the face… we must do that which we think we cannot.”

Warm regards,

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