International Women’s Day: making an impact with a simple gesture

So today is International Women’s Day – which, much to my shame, I didn’t realise until it was trending on Twitter (a sign of the times). It’s not something I’ve ever really paid attention to, in fact.

I work in an industry where men are pretty dominant, so I was expecting today to pass just like any other. Maybe a few brands on Twitter being more outspoken about it. That’s pretty much it. But despite plenty of people and brands’ best efforts, the concept of giving women pride is entirely misunderstood. Reading the comments on YouTube’s #HerVoiceIsMyVoice video is enough to make any person give up on the idea of encouraging each other instead of tearing each other apart:

The vicious outpouring of hate towards the women and girls featured did not make me feel inspired, or appreciated, or hopeful.

And then one person had an idea

Not even five minutes after I’d closed the browser on those comments, a colleague walked through the door this morning brandishing vibrant bouquets of roses and a box of Celebrations (an apt choice).

“It’s International Women’s Day!”

I was absolutely floored.

He asked me which colour flower I’d like and to choose a chocolate. I babbled and blushed.

He continued round the office giving each woman a flower as a gesture of… I don’t know, gratitude? Support? I don’t know. But once the bewilderment wore off, we smiled. We talked about it. We found water to keep the roses happy.

I think part of the reason it was so astounding was because it was so unexpected. The gesture came from one person wanting to do a kindness and its impact was felt throughout the building.

That’s all it takes

Maybe I’m just feeling a bit wanky because I’ve watched one too many inspirational videos on YouTube today. Or because Richard Herring deserves a medal for replying to the outcries of ‘When’s International Men’s Day then?!’:

Richard Herring's Twitter feed

I think it’s easy to forget that all it takes is the action of one person to make an impression. One kind gesture or one positive comment is enough to completely change someone’s day – or an entire building of women. And I think that’s especially important to those of us who might struggle more on a daily basis.

So thanks to one individual, an ordinary Wednesday seems much lighter because I have a sunny yellow rose on my desk.

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