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Meet the Women Living Out the National Women's History Month Theme

The theme for the 2022 Women’s National History Month was “Providing Healing, Promoting Hope.” It is a tribute to the endless ways women of all cultures have provided both healing and hope throughout history. Although National Women’s History Month was in March, it is never too late to celebrate women, and speak on the importance of lifting the women in our lives up. There is a beauty in celebrating women for their resilience and accomplishments, while also slowly tearing down the unrealistic expectations that are put on us by media and culture. The theme of Women’s History Month had me thinking about powerful women like Cheslie Kryst, 2019 Miss USA or 22-year-old star athlete Katie Meyers — both whom we lost by suicide.

There is so much expected from us as women; society has the timeline posted for us, “your body needs to look like this, you need to be married by this age,  you need to have this many degrees to be successful,” and all that needs to be accomplished gracefully with a pretty smile on your face. I cannot help but think about how much all that pressure and all those expectations can push someone to the edge. No wonder we have anxiety, eating disorders, and depression at a high risk.

Nicola Fernandes, self-coach and shaman and creator of The Wholeness Mastery Method, shared that as women, we need to do the inner work of redefining what we were conditioned to believe about ourselves, our worth, and abilities. She says, “We as women got so conditioned in stepping back and making ourselves small, and we for so long behaved that way unconsciously and have unconsciously passed it to the next generation.”

This must be what hope and healing looks like — redefining and recreating our own narrative, plus taking our pain and the pain of others to learn and create new resources and methods for the next generation. When asked about her feelings towards Cheslie and Katie’s unfortunate deaths, Fernandes shared, “We all make mistakes, we all doubt ourselves sometimes. We all need help because nobody is prefect. This pressure of showing up as prefect and then breaking down under it is such a mind game.”

That is why it is crucial to ingrain in the next generation the importance of being able to recognize when you are personally not OK, and to not be afraid to take the break you need and seek the help you deserve. This sounds cliché because it seems like everyone knows this, and agrees with it, but do we? Olympic Gymnast Simone Biles stepped down from the Olympics to focus on her mental health but was given major criticism for it. Tennis phenomenon Naomi Osaka withdrew from the French Open to focus on her well-being and mental health but was not supported by society.

Nonetheless, I have to say as women, even when faced with backlash, judgment, and adversity, with all that weight put on us, we are killing it. I think we can all agree this time of the year holds a space filled with grappling with the lasting effects of COVID-19 and the uncertainty the pandemic still brings. Women of all cultures, races, and ages have been proving themselves resilient more so this year and last year. As women, we have not only had to navigate our biological/reproductive worlds, we also had to navigate our families, communities, and careers.

Dr. Azza Halim said it well: “An empowered woman wears many hats, and multitasks without even blinking,” which is something to definitely be celebrated. Dr. Azza Halim is an anesthesiologist trained in critical care/trauma and pediatrics. I got the opportunity to ask her and two other female professionals about their thoughts around women empowerment and mental health.

When asked, “What do you think society is lacking in terms of lifting women?” Dr. Azza shared that woman in health care are not being equally paid nor achieve leading positions as easily as their male counterparts.

And she is right. According to Becker’s Hospital Review, in 2020 the gender pay gap widened 25.2 percent in 2019 to 28 percent, with female physicians earning on average $166,289 less than men annually. As women, we strive to get to the positions we are in and be experts in our field, yet still get paid unequally compared to men.

Successful fitness expert and life coach, Andrea Marcellus, who has created a brand that guides women in strengthening their minds and bodies, also gave her thoughts on the work that still needs to be done to elevate women. She shared, “There is so much work to do in the area of women’s health, with respect to our understanding of hormonal fluctuations.” This would have a huge impact on our ability to feel our best and in turn do our best.

Finally, Isabel, founder of Isa Lazo Skincare that creates products that are completely natural and effective for all genders and skin types added that “the lack of affordable childcare is a huge hindrance on women till this day.” According to Business Insider, while visiting the Capitol Child Development Center, Biden shared that nearly 1.2 million women haven’t returned to work because there’s no affordable childcare.

Although there may be so much to work on, there is also so much to celebrate. We can celebrate women like Dr. Azza Halim, Nicola Fernandes, Andrea Marcellus, and Isabel who are powerhouses in their own fields. We can celebrate the life of Cheslie Kryst who to this day, even after her death is inspiring young ladies to go after their dreams and speak up for themselves. While we continue to fight for women’s mental health, well-being, and equality, we can still celebrate the healing that we are attaining and the hope that we hold on to.

Getty image by Anastasia Iunosheva

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