Women are rallying together in a massive and unstoppable force to make their voices heard around the world in ways we have never seen before.
When Dr Kirstin Ferguson, an Australian company director, decided she was fed up with the vicious online abuse of women, she turned the tables and used social media to create the #CelebratingWomen campaign, profiling two women from anywhere in the world and every walk of life, every day for a year. The response was overwhelming.
In Women Kind, Ferguson joins Walkley award-winning journalist and leading commentator on women in the workplace Catherine Fox to examine how women's shared clout is transforming communities, workplaces and leadership; show that every woman is a role model; and challenge the idea that women regularly turn on each other for scarce seats at the top table.
Ferguson and Fox urge us to get on board and forget the old saying that when a woman climbs the corporate ladder, she needs to send it back down to help one other woman. What's needed is a fishing net to bring up many women together, all supporting each other.
There has never been a better moment to join our voices, share experiences and celebrate the power of women supporting women.
Kirstin Ferguson spent the first 20 years of her career in male-dominated fields – in the air force, law and business – desperately hoping no one would notice that she was a woman.
On that basis had anyone suggested to her even a few years ago that she would co-write a book called Women Kind unapologetically shining a light on the achievements of females she wouldn’t have believed them.
“I’d have said you had rocks in your head,” Ferguson told the men and women gathered for the Sydney launch of that very book on Thursday.
And yet by virtue of her having become an ‘accidental activist’ for women last year they would have been right. Along with the award winning journalist (and long-time, very deliberate activist for women), Catherine Fox, Ferguson has indeed authored a book with the premise of celebrating, lifting, connecting and amplifying women.
The genesis for the book lay in the viral success of #CelebratingWomen, the hashtag that Ferguson started on January 1st of 2017 after a shot of inspiration hit her while she was lying in a hammock on holidays contemplating the defeat of Hillary Clinton, the denigration of women online and a desire to make a different kind of noise.
She asked her mum to answer four questions and send a few photos which Ferguson then posted on Twitter in January. The idea was to highlight and showcase the amazing and diverse things women from all walks of life are achieving. To create a new set of role models and make visible the remarkable everyday stories of women which haven’t been told.
She set herself the goal of profiling a different woman on Twitter in the same way every day for a year and it took off.
A single tweet led to a campaign celebrating 757 women from more than 30 countries all over the world. A meeting with Catherine for coffee and cake halfway through 2017 led to them writing Women Kind off the back of the campaign.
“We really are yin and yang in many respects,” Fox said on Thursday night. “I have been writing about these inequities for years whereas Kirstin had this incredible optimism having avoided this topic for a long time.”
And yet, despite these differences, the process of writing and creating the book was smooth and positive which reflects a key message from #CelebratingWomen and #WomenKind: women – even different women – can and do collaborate very well.
While that shouldn’t need saying it does because as Fox observed, the bonds between women have long been trivialised or couched as negative, and the reality is – for many women their relationships with other women are incredibly strong and positive and valuable.
The room itself reflected that. Women from a variety of fields came together to celebrate and support the two authors and everything they stand for: a world in which women are valued and respected as equals as a matter of course. There are detractors, of course, but the sisterhood is not just alive and well. It’s positively thriving.
Change is afoot. There is backlash but that’s expected when there is push back – and women are pushing back. Women like Ferguson are no longer apologising for being a woman – or hiding from it – they are embracing it.
There is more public solidarity between women in Australia right now than there has possibly ever been and #WomenKind and #CelebratingWomen are part of it.
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