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Choose to Challenge

By Jude LaClaire, Ph.D



Late March 2021, will be the one-year marker of the beginning of the Covid-19 stay-at-home order. I have been working via video and phone sessions since that time. Our lives have changed greatly since that time. The challenges have been particularly difficult for some groups of people. Recently, I have read a number of articles talking about the particular challenges that face parents, particularly mothers, women in education, health care, front-line jobs, caretakers, and other important and demanding jobs.


It is timely to be celebrating the one hundred and tenth ‘International Women’s Day’ on March 8, 2021. United Nation Women declared International Women’s Day Theme-“Women in Leadership: Achieving an Equal Future in a COVID-19 world.” Their announcement tells us to “…celebrate the tremendous efforts by women and girls around the world in shaping a more equal future and recovery from the COVID-19 epidemic.” It is also aligned with the theme of the 65th session of the Commission on the Status of Women, “Women’s full and effective participation and decision-making in public life, as well as the elimination of violence, for achieving gender equality and the empowerment of all women and girls.” The Generation Equality Campaign calls for women’s right in decision making in all areas of life, equal pay, equal sharing of unpaid care and domestic work, an end to all forms of violence against women and girls, and health care services that respond to their needs.


The International Women’s Day theme is “Choose to Challenge.” A challenged world is an alert world. And from challenge comes change. They are encouraging each of us to:

#ChooseToChallenge. As we mark this day we:

  • Celebrate women’s achievements

  • Raise awareness about women’s equality

  • Lobby for accelerated gender-parity

  • Fundraise for female-focused charities


This is for everyone, not any one country, group, or organization. As Gloria Steinem tells us, “The story of women’s struggle for equality belongs to no single feminist, nor to any one organization, but to the collective efforts of all who care about human rights.”  Regardless of your national, ethnic, cultural, or religious affiliation, your identification as male, female or non-binary, feminist or not, equality and human rights are the driving force of this human movement.


The International Women’s Day website tells us of three central beliefs that are the underpinning and guide for the purposes and provisions of this celebration:

  • Identifying, celebrating and increasing visibility of women’s achievements can help forge equality

  • Strategic collaborations based on a foundation of shared purpose, trust, and appreciation can impact positive change for women

  • Worldwide awareness-raising via meaningful narratives, resources, and activity can help combat gender bias and discrimination to accelerate gender parity


I hope this sounds exciting, and a reason to continue working in your way for

these lofty goals. Can you find ways in your life to support others, to implement changes in your life and sphere of influence? All of these things happen when each of us is more aware and awake to possibilities.


My own journey began as the child of parents born before any woman. or a person of color could vote. My traditional upbringing was challenged when I read Betty Friedan’s The Feminine Mystique (1963) and Maya Angelou’s I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings (1969). I became aware of the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) being reintroduced in Congress in 1971. (First introduced in 1923 by Alice Paul and still not ratified) I began reading books by women about our emotional, sexual, and relationship development in the ‘70s. The Black Rights movements of the ‘60s were followed by women’s rights in the ‘70s. My sense of pride, identity, and courage to embrace my womanhood and engage in action to achieve parity were forged in those times.


I have been encouraged by women who lit the way for us;  Harriet Tubman, the suffragettes, ERA supporters, the United Farm Worker’s Dolores Huerta, Shirley Chisholm, and Geraldine Ferraro, Ruth Bader Ginsburg and so many others. Now we have Kamala Harris, Black Lives Matter founders, Alicia Garza, Patrice Cuillors and Opal Tometi, Sharice Davids, Deb Haaland, young women in Congress, women directors and playwrights, and so many more. We stand on the shoulders of those before us and continue, day by day, action by action, to change our world to one that embraces equality and human rights. #ChooseToChallenge!



Jude LaClaire, Ph.D., LCPC is a counselor and educator at the Heartland Holistic Health Center. She is the author of the “Life Weaving Education Curriculum” that teaches creative, effective, holistic problem-solving. For counseling appointments (confidential video sessions), seminars, in-service training, or speaker’s bureau, call 816-509-9277 or; Some pro bono and lower fee sessions available at this time.


Evolving Magazine

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