2023 ENAll newsenglish

Write Your Own Story, Or Others Will Write It for You

With advancements in gender equality losing footing on all fronts and gender equality being 300 years away if we continue on our current downward spiral, one can only wonder what keeps holding women back in making more steady progress towards owning their full identity, space, and full potential in our world.

One answer could be the fact that women still avoid becoming intentionally visible or owning their story. 

“I keep hearing: we need to give women a voice. But for me that’s like people not being able to recognize that you already have a voice. And because somebody is thinking that they have to give you a voice, if you are not careful, it will be that person who gives you a voice who will tell the world your story simply because they don’t recognize that you already have a voice and that maybe they don’t have a listening ear,” says Yaa Peprah Amekudzi, head of Cocoa Life Program with Mondelez International in Ghana. 

Mrs. Peprah Amekudzi will be one of the numerous distinguished speakers and mentors expected in person and virtually at the regional conference Equal Pay Day that will take place on March 31st – April 2nd in Prague. 

Mrs. Peprah Amekudzi continues: “I have been telling people over and over: it’s important that you own your voice and use that voice to talk about yourself, about what you need, what you want, where you are coming from, where you want to go, how you want to get there, and whom you want to carry along. If you don’t do that, somewhere along the line you will get messed up and you will also mess up everyone around you.” “I appreciate that not everything is about our own perspective; it’s always good to have somebody to tell us what they think about us. But we need to sort it out. We need to reflect and filter, then to come back to ourselves and to ground our story into what we believe to be true,” she notes.    

The same strategy applies to women being able to ask for equal pay for equal work. “ If you get into an office and you don’t own your voice and you don’t own your space, then your employer will tell you that, because you are a woman, this is where you should sit. They also say men are breadwinners and that’s why they should earn more. No, you should put your foot down: write your story saying that what men can do women can do and sometimes they can do it better. What I mean is that when you go to an office, your story should be that of an employee equal as anybody, not based on gender or race or your family background. It shouldn’t be like that,” Mrs. Peprah Amekudzi added.  

“I have dedicated my entire entrepreneurial life to supporting women to make their voices heard more through distinguished, unique, powerful, and impactful personal branding. As a former business journalist I was astonished about how few women I got to interview. Women, even top leaders, were always too busy or too shy to give interviews, but I’ve never met a man who would shy away from my microphone. I believe we still have quite a lot of work to do in this area, to develop more self-confidence and trust in the value of our thought leadership and what we have to say,” says Cristina Muntean, founder and CEO of VORNICA, a company on a mission to triple the number of women CEOs in Europe by 2030. 

So, what’s the key to owning your voice and writing your own story as a woman?

“Everybody needs to learn to be more intentional. We need to be more intentional about reflecting on our own path and our journey. That’s the step we should take: stop, pause, then ask ourselves: Who am I? Where am I going? What am I trying to do? What am I, not just who am I? Be intentional about asking yourself these questions, and then also be intentional about finding solution because at the end of the day, if you don’t do you, no one else will do it,” said Mrs. Peprah Amekudzi, adding: “Of course I also believe that you can’t live in isolation. So, there is an I, but there is also a we because we are collaborating. Without an I there cannot be a “we” and without “we” there cannot be any I. No story will be interesting if there are no other characters in the story,” she concludes. 

“Courage, intentionality, and dedicated focus and discipline are indeed the key elements to owning our voices and to making ourselves more strategically visible,” added Cristina Muntean. “The more our world of work is shifting online, the more we need to also follow and switch our patterns to communicating and relating differently. In the remote world of work we, women, have a fabulous advantage: we already understand the value of building relationships and we are more emotionally attuned to others and to larger groups. If we use this to our own advantage, we will shatter inequality not in 300, but in 30 years,” says Muntean. 

The strategic regional conference Equal Pay Day is organized by Business Professional Women Czech Republic, a branch of the prestigious global organization BPW International. The conference is conducted in English and in Czech and it is taking place in person in Prague on March 31st – April 1st, and online on Sunday, April 2nd. To support gender and pay equality in the workplace and to develop a strategic network of contacts that will yield value for years to come, join Equal Pay Day in spring.