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President’s Update – December 2017


Dear Friends,

Here’s to a happy and healthy holiday season for you and your loved ones!

At our strategic planning meeting in November, two themes emerged – one is the desire for more communication between the IWF board and its members. To that end, we have instituted a new interactive feature in the news section on our website, so everyone can stay up to date on the World Leadership Conference we’re hosting in October 2018 and IWF Florida forum happenings. You can respond to my periodic president’s letter with thoughts, opinions or information of your own, and I hope you’ll do so.

The other theme that emerged was the desire for more clarity on IWF membership criteria, the application process and the resulting invitations to join the organization. We’re going to hold a meeting on January 20 from 9:30 am to noon to discuss this important issue. Please join us!

As 2017 draws to an end, I was thinking about who would be chosen Time Magazine’s “Person of the Year.” I thought it might be Harvey Weinstein, since he set in motion a tsunami of sexual harassment and abuse allegations not only in Hollywood but in 21st century America. It’s a truism that most of us – or our mothers, daughters, sisters or friends — have experienced sexual abuse to some degree and in varying frequencies. We all have the memories we’d rather not remember and the stories that are painful to tell. So it was so much better that Time named The Silence Breakers. They should probably all get honorary membership in the International Women’s Forum for their courage and leadership.

The saddest tales are the stories of women we’ll never know. We’ll never know about them because they curtailed their own careers and livelihoods rather than suffer the indignities — or real dangers — of sexual exploitation. Instead of leaning in, they opted out.    

So now that this awfulness has once again been exposed, magnified and amplified, what can women leaders do? For starters, we can confront it when we see it. Call out the offenders, hold them accountable and refuse to be intimidated. We can do this on our own behalf, but we should consider ourselves obligated to act on behalf of women who are less powerful than we are – especially when they work for us or beside us.

In the 1970’s, Gloria Steinem spoke of a “click” moment when women awakened to the powerful ideas of the women’s movement. Now it’s called “woke.” With brave women coming forward and saying enough is enough, I hope we’re on the brink of better times for women in the workplace, at home and in the public sphere.

Here’s wishing you a holiday season with your loved ones, and a healthy and happy new year.

Warmest regards,

Katy

katy sorenson