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Deb Re In The Boston Herald: Women All In This Together

Posted 12/27/2017

Our President and CEO’s thoughts on the power of sisterhood, the year of the woman, and where we’re headed in 2018 published in the Boston Herald’s “As You Were Saying…” column on December 27, 2017.

Perhaps this truly was the year of the woman. It’s the year that started with women wearing pink hats and marching down streets across this country chanting, “Hey hey, ho ho, all the hate has got to go.”

It’s the year that captured the imagination of girls as they watched a little girl named Moana and a wonder woman named Diana find their own identities while saving their communities from hate and fear.

And, it’s the year that women one by one joined in a chorus of voices speaking truth to power to finally expose the taunts, the put- downs, and the assaults from men across every industry. It’s also the year that ended with TIME Magazine naming the Silence Breakers as Person of the Year.

Progress means embracing sisterhood; the long-term relationships and our shared strengths. It’s the oxygen that will keep us going.

Breaking the silence is a major achievement. But, along with #MeToo also came headlines of women turning against one another when the stakes were high, vying for limited places of power. We hear about workplace bullying among women and the lament, “I’d rather work for a man than a woman.”

So many women still seek an unattainable perfection that creates stress and self-doubt. It isn’t hard to connect the dots of self-doubt to the historical messages that women have received about our looks and intelligence; or, to the rampant assaults and insults that have recently surfaced. We come to believe what we hear and experience.

We have our remedies, we lean in, we let go, we have chicken soup for every situation. We read self-help/how-to-get-ahead books. But now, in the wake of so many courageous women breaking their silence, we have an opportunity. We must join together and more fully accept ourselves and each other.

Easier said than done. We need to respect the difficult choices women make in their lives and believe that women can be sugar and spice, strong and capable. We must believe that it’s OK to work at home, or have a nanny, to have children, or not. We need to accept and support each other in our imperfectly beautiful sisterhood.

I know this is possible because I’ve seen it firsthand. As the CEO of an organization focused on the healthy development of girls and women, I’ve learned that relationships are oxygen. Our aim is to share the many pathways traveled and to support women as they are, and where they are. We reinforce that one size doesn’t fit all and that there are women of all backgrounds, shapes and sizes making choices that are right for them and their families. Across our country, brave women are using their voices to put an end to violence and harassment. Now, we need women to speak up about loving each other and loving themselves.

Progress means embracing sisterhood; the long-term relationships and our shared strengths. It’s the oxygen that will keep us going.

Now that the silence is broken, we can create a healthier sound to replace it. This is our next frontier.

In many ways, 2017 was the year of the woman; let’s make 2018 the year for all women.