Today marks International Women’s Day. (And yes, if you’re wondering, there is an International Men’s Day – 19th November.)

This year’s theme is #BalanceforBetter, with the aim of building towards a more gender balanced world. A few weeks ago our son was away at a school camp so my husband and I had a rare weekend to ourselves and went to see a couple of movies: Green Book and On the Basis of Sex.

Both of these movies, based on true stories, were set within relatively recent times (the 1960s and ‘70s) yet it was striking how much society has changed in that time. Green Book is set in 1962 and is the story of Don Shirley, a world-class African-American pianist undertaking a tour of the US Deep South. He faces segregation and deep prejudice and so has to hire a driver/bodyguard to accompany him. It’s shocking that these sorts of attitudes existed so recently, and it’s horrifying that they still do in some cases.

On the Basis of Sex is the story of Ruth Bader Ginsburg. The film started with her entering Harvard in the 1960s as part of the first cohort to admit women. She and the other women were asked (by a professor) to justify why they’d taken a place from a man. After she graduated, at the top of her class, she couldn’t get a job in a law firm because she was a woman and went into academia. The main thrust of the film was her battle to change discriminatory laws and her ground-breaking opening victory. This part of the film was set in the 1970s, just 10 years before I began my law degree in 1984, and yet I don’t recall particularly sexist attitudes from my own classmates or lecturers. (Having said that, the #MeToo movement has shown us that we may have been conditioned to seeing as normal at the time certain attitudes and actions which we would now see as abhorrent.)

We’ve made a lot of progress towards a more balanced society, but we still have a way to go, as this image shows.  

Source.

It’s not all fun for men either. Men are more likely to be victims of physical assault and many struggle with mental health issues too.  For some reason, “feminism” is a dirty word to many, yet it’s all about achieving gender equality which would help both men and women to achieve their potential and lead more fulfilled lives. Breaking down those gender stereotypes can only be a good thing.

Another way in which #BalanceforBetter makes sense is at the micro level, in relation to our own lives. Most of us, male and female, are struggling to balance combinations of family, work, home, study, health, fun. We live in an increasingly stressed world, and this can have a detrimental effect on our mental health.

This is where I want to help. I want to help you look at your life and its balance. I’ll help you look at your family and friends, your finances, your health fitness and your fulfilment and help you develop strategies to focus on the areas where you feel like you need help. There’s no one-size-fits-all as we’re all different, but I can help you with issues such as managing anxiety, reinvigorating your career and studying effectively. Carpe Diem means “seize the day” and that’s what it’s all about in my opinion. We only get one life, so make sure we do everything we can to get the life we want.

I’ll leave you with a quote from the ever-inspiring Ruth Bader Ginsburg who, at the age of 85, still sits on the Supreme Court, proving that there’s no such thing as too old.

“Real change, enduring change, happens one step at a time.”

That’s true for society and it’s true for the changes we make in ourselves. Let’s take a first step.

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