Attending the TedxWomen event in Accra, Ghana was such a special experience. The theme of thisTedxWomen event was It's About Time. A theme that put urgency on the messages that each speaker was portraying. Its about time that women speak about their passions, it's about time that women are part of the solutions, it's about time that we give back to our communities, and work together for a healthier global family and environment. This event was about using our time efficiently, and pressing on the urgency of the global issues we face today, and the potential of African nations. Many of the speakers talked about the importance of women speaking out on issues, having a voice in the conversations around environmental issues, gender stereotypes, and development goals.
We discussed the importance of men being a part of the discussion around feminism, and celebrating when fathers are raising their daughter to follow their passions, when husbands are supportive of their wives career goals, and when men in general standup against oppression of women.
Ghana right now is preparing for an election in December, and it was amazing to hear youth talk about the importance to vote, and what that civic duty means to the young people of Ghana. There is an obvious positive energy that shines off of Ghanaians when they speak about their people, and their nation, that is really refreshing to experience. It was inspiring to first time voters speak about their views on the election, the need for young people to exercise their right to vote, and to be educated on the platforms of each candidate. It reminded me of the same banding together that happened in the past Canadian election, where youth were vigorously advocating for their friends, family, and peers to vote. This type on bottom-top movements gives me hope that as communities, we have the power to influence affairs much bigger than out individual selves, and by the sounds of it, that is exactly the message that the youth in Accra were trying to echo.
I was especially moved by this message that was threaded into each many of the speeches, that encouraged women to take risks, to face their fears. Where urgency played such an important role in the event, there was a strong encouragement coming form these successful and passionate women, to take a risk, because it is now or never. I think this is often times this can come across as a very cliche message to share with an audience, but I found it more convincing at this event because the women were able to speak from a very vulnerable place and share some of their own anxiety and fears that they are still facing and that they continue to do the work they do despite the nerves. Maame Adjei, was the final speaker of the evening, and she shared with the audience that she was so afraid of coming up on stage and speaking at the event that she had done everything in her power to try and get out of it. She told the group that she felt they had mixed her up with someone else when she was invited to speak at the event (that a superior at work was supposed to receive the invite). When she was reassured that she was indeed the intended invitee, she immediately asked herself "what could I possibly share at a Tedx event that anyone would care to listen to? What kind advice do I have to give?". She said she was inflicted with severe Imposter Syndrome, feeling like she did not belong in the lineup and that she would be discovered as a fake up on stage.
Maame Adjei's entire talk was about how many women are affected by this terrible feeling that they are not worthy of recognition, and have been taught to belittle their accomplishments. She spoke about her own personal journey and her battle with Imposter Syndrome she experienced when preparing for this event. While she spoke she sounded sure of herself, she sounded truthful, but what I really appreciated is that she sounded nervous. You could hear in her voice that she was having this internal struggle while she spoke about this vulnerable feelings, but she was sharing them with us anyways. The audience was quite and listened to her as she went through her speech and demonstrated the triumph against self-doubts. We live in a time where mental health issues are affecting more and more, but we are also becoming braver in sharing these experiences. I was grateful that this woman in the end had the courage to get up on stage, because I was able to indenify with so much of what she was experiencing.
When we stand up and share our truth and our uneasiness, we give other women to find lessons within our struggles, and hopefully next time they are feeling similarly they won't shy away and hide, they will speak up! If more women speak out about our self-talk, our internal battles, our successes, and our failures, than maybe eventually our voices won't shake anymore, because we will find our strength and stability through knowing we will are not alone.