Women, policy, brain science and dudes

On International Women’s Day, there’s an opportunity to highlight what trailblazing women have to say about giving, thinking and doing to shape a future with equality for all. Lisa Witter inspired me late last year. Today, of all days, I wanted to share why that was. By Lyndal Stuart.

Here’s an opener: “The algorithm for how things are done, where policy is directed, and what gets funded – that’s being written right now. By men. So if you think we’re behind now, you just wait.”

If that all sounds like digital nerdspeak that has nothing to do with you, I completely understand. I’ve left the business of big data and algorithms and the code behind systems to those with far better mathematical minds than mine – and then Lisa Witter hit me and a room full of other women with this reality at an Australian Women Donors Network event late last year. I’m not in the slightest bit ashamed to say that it was a wakeup call for me.

Rather than focus on the negative in that, I found it empowering – and Lisa Witter made it so in her presentation. She acknowledged that women are outstanding at connecting, building relationships, telling stories, communicating and nurturing. “It’s what we do,” she said. However, she also provided a great outline of a few other things we can do to keep progress happening. On International Women’s Day, it’s important to share them:

  • Give

    Giving is important because it’s catalytic. It’s important to understand what part of the system you want to change and empower yourself to use money to make that change happen. Lisa Witter encouraged women not to be shy about making money and using it.

  • Understand the policy landscape

    Globally, nationally, locally. She was an understandable advocate of this, given that she is the Co-Founder and Executive Chairman of apolitical – a platform that aggregates the best in public policy in 120 countries and provides a network for social and environmental innovators to connect and learn.

  • Read

    Lisa Witter’s book recommendation was Homo Deus: A Brief History of Tomorrow by Yuval Noah Harari, but she also said repeatedly “read brain science stuff”.

  • Embrace fast and slow thinking for influence

    Further to the point above on brain science and reading, Lisa Witter recommended this.

  • “Work with dudes, we need them”

    Progress on equality isn’t just women’s business – it’s also the business of business, and the business of men, and Lisa Witter pointed out there are men standing up. There are men in power. There are men with influence and money and thinking that women need to partner with, and equality can be achieved by women and men.

  • “Ask women”

    This was not a new message, but it really can’t be reinforced enough. Co-design with and for women, develop programs with the communities that need them and empower women to be a part of the change they want to see.

Happy International Women’s Day.

Lyndal Stuart is the Head of Marketing Communications at Good2Give.