Today is Women’s Equality Day, so I took the opportunity to speak with some incredible women on their motivation, inspiration, and how they feel about Women’s Equality thus far.
Writer Hilary Nicole gives great insight on what equality means to her, and how she supports other women.
What does equality mean to you?
In four words: Access, Opportunity, Reparations, and Reconciliation. It means humility in the face of hard conversations. Conversations that force us to confront the context of our own unearned privileges and don’t require that the oppressed explain to their oppressor the truth of their oppression.
In the United States, with very few exceptions, our homes, businesses and public lands sit on territories stolen from the First Nations folk. Our early critical infrastructure and the wealth it has generated was built through a system of institutionalized chattel enslavement and forced subjection that we fought a war to maintain. The intergenerational transmission of these collective traumas are real and we are not that far removed from them.
When we say the United States is exceptional, I would ask that you define for me; exceptional for whom? This radical experiment that has drawn diverse generations of dreamers, builders, and refugees to our shores is an amazing, powerful and moving ideal. Equality within this space, means that the deeply rooted concepts of individual agency, security and safety are truths for all people, in theory, and practice, even if you were not born white-bodied and gendered male.
Who are some women who inspire you?
The women who beat down doors and disrupt hierarchies. The Empress Wu’s and Catherine the Great’s of history that our double standards on form and decorum have demonized. The tellers of our histories and cautionary voices on our futures like bell hooks, Youvonne Vera, Robin Morgan, Ann Lackie, Toni Morrison, and so many others, out here refusing the normative standards forced upon them; raising up their own voice, in their own voice. The women like Ava DuVernay, Reed Morano and Wanuri Kahiu who weave stories and show us the tender rawness of our truths. The ones like Grace Hopper, Ada Lovelace and Krysta Svore who usher in new frontiers and possibilities in how we build and implement in the world. I do not think the question can be answered with so few words, there are so many others.
What are some ways that women can show support to one another daily?
Celebrate one another. If you see a woman out here killing it. TELL HER! Don’t be afraid to be the one to smile first or extend your hand. If you see a sister out here struggling, uplift her. Amplify and collaborate. Dare to step outside of your own truth and take a critical stance to your own lens. Don’t support the women who force-feed you their airbrushed reality so you feel bad about your real, raw and likely much more vibrant own. Demand better and hold one another accountable to honor that.
How are you celebrating Women’s Equality Day?
Women’s equality day finds me in Berlin a city that to me represents decentralization and deconstruction. I am celebrating by taking a deep dive into my own insecurities and challenging myself to see how I can do better in the ways I show up and engage with my team. Suiting really, it is one more day in which I am afforded the opportunity to tear down walls and build alliances.
What do you love most about being a woman?
This body has grown and fed another human. What is your superpower? Is there honestly anything more amazing than an organism that can renew itself in cadence with the ebb and flow of the moon and ocean tides? Woman is ripe soil for planting the seeds of generations to come and gives birth to the wondrous possibilities of their futures. We are the collective and collaborators. We carry legacy on our backs and nurture life within our wombs. Woman is the sinew holding together the bones. The warrior goddesses whose stories are still being dug up and just beginning to truthfully be told.
How do you spread girl power?
As a sole provider and single mama, I’m tuned way into the working motherhood grind, so I take every opportunity to celebrate other mamas when I see them in need of a bit of comic relief. Women out here dedicated to their hustles help drive me forward. So I work hard to do the same for others in kind. We don’t even have to know each other, but girl, I see you. Keep moving, building and taking those leaps of faith.
As a survivor of domestic violence, I am currently focused on establishing a trust to fund civil legal defense for victims of violence (regardless of gender). I have been incredibly fortunate to have an incredible network both personally and professionally that has allowed me the time and resources to fight a long battle to keep my daughter and me safe from this abuse. In this, I am an extremely privileged minority. No individual should have to wade into this territory without competent and dedicated representation.
What are some of your favorite women-owned brands?
HeyMama, founded by Katy Libin and Amri Kibler, is a community of mothers in business that inspires me on a daily basis to grow and support the growth of women out here hustling. AkiraChicks, currently run by Linda Kamau and founded by, among others, Angela Oduor, Marie Githinji, Judith Owigar, is a women-led initiative not only inspiring the next generation of girls in tech but also re-defining what access to technical education looks like for girls around the world. In the clothing space, I think the woman over at ThirdLove are inspirational in their approach to the intimate process of clothing our bodies and they mainstream the amplification of women within the workspace.
What does the future of women’s equality look like to you?
It looks like a valid opinion or high-quality work product being taken seriously the first time it is stated by a feminine voice instead of a few minutes later when a male colleague repackages it with his own tone. It is structural reformations that address entrenched hierarchies of misogyny and the reality of unearned privileges that continue so many harms.
What advice do you have for other female entrepreneurs?
Smile first and honor the Queens you meet. Social media has us out here believing we have to keep up with, be better than and hate on one another to get any airtime. Until we demand different in how we consume we will continue to be force-fed a reality devoid of realness or truth. Question everything and don’t be afraid to iterate and jump the lane when you get off track.
About Hilary Nicole:
Hilary Nicole is a creative analyst and disruptive technologist, passionate about security and development at the grass-roots, she considers herself fortunate to have had the opportunity to live in and work alongside communities in 30+ countries. A single-mother and sole provider, she is committed to empowering the next generation of young female entrepreneurs and STEAM lady dreamers, makers and builders.