International Women’s Day: Courage

Happy March Dear Community! Over the next 30 days, The Hivery is celebrating The Power of She: United We Thrive with inspirational, empowering events and storytelling, starting with a panel discussion on International Women's Day, Thursday, March 8th. The event, What It Means to Be a Courageous Woman, will feature a performance by the Marin Girl’s Chorus, insights from a collection of incredible women, and an inspiring conversation with our community.

Recently, we sat down with three of the evening’s panelists to get a sneak preview and capture their thoughts on courage. Here is what they had to say...

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Nikki Silvestri, founder and CEO, Soil and Shadow, a project development firm working to create systems of change while improving relationships between communities:

What does it mean to be a courageous woman?
Having the guts to face life as it is—instead of life as we want it to be.

Who are some of the courageous women in your life and why?
My dear friend Vonda Vaden Bates, who lost her husband to hospital error and has taken on patient safety as a result. My mother, who has stamina for life’s challenges in a way I can’t even comprehend. My business partner Ryan, who pivoted from Olympic athlete to serving athletes through massage therapy—healing those who really need it.

What are some misconceptions about courage?
That courage and fear are mutually exclusive. Fear is strongest when we have the most courage.

What advice can you offer women who aren't feeling especially courageous at the moment?
What you are feeling is enough. Go deeper into it, and eventually you will move through it to the action you’re meant to take.


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Linda Calhoun, executive director, Career Girls, a video-based career exploration tool for girls that focuses on jobs in the fields of science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM):

What does it mean to be a courageous woman?
Being courageous means that even with fear so great that it makes your whole body tremble, you summon the will, the resolve to do what needs to be done or speak the truth that needs to be heard.


Who are some of the courageous women in your life and why?
My paternal grandmother immediately comes to mind. She was born and raised in rural Massie’s Mill, Virginia, located in the Blue Ridge Mountains. She was one of eight children born to a very poor subsistence farmer and a maid. She never went beyond eighth grade, but after my father and three of his siblings all left the area to find higher wages and escape Jim Crow segregation, she insisted that my grandfather and the two remaining children pick up their stakes and join the rest of the family in Connecticut.

At first, my grandfather balked. Despite racism and poverty, he had an extended family that enjoyed some creature comforts derived from bootlegging. He did not want to leave. She responding by telling him that she was going to leave (with or without him) and take their two youngest children with her.

Understanding that she would not back down, he relented and went from earning 10¢ per hour in a coal mine to earning enough money to buy a truck and a suburban lot. She had the courage to uproot herself and her children, with no income and an eighth-grade education, to create a much better life for her family.

What are some misconceptions about courage?
The biggest misconception is that courage means the absence of fear. It is exactly the opposite. You take action in the face of fear. You believe in yourself, the world, and the universe that somehow you will be able to face whatever is on the other side of that decision.

What advice can you offer women who aren't feeling especially courageous at the moment?
My advice is to remember. Remember whom you are descended from. Remember what they endured or suffered to bring you to this point. Remember how you have overcome past struggles and obstacles. And, remember who you are. I know who I am and what is important to me. In addition, be pro-active. Prepare for the worst. Not only have a plan A, but also B, C, and D. Knowing that I have created a plan of action for every worrisome scenario gives me enormous peace of mind.


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Julie Castro Abrams, founder and CEO, How Women Lead, a Bay Area network for the promotion of diverse women’s voices:

What does it mean to be a courageous woman?
Women are conditioned toward certain behaviors like care taking, saying yes, pleasing others, and letting others have airtime. So truthfully, courage shows up in every day ways that may not be defined as courageous. Saying no can be an act of courage. Speaking your truth and asking for your fair share is courageous. When someone interrupts you and takes your words away, standing up and demanding to be heard is courageous. Standing up for your own family, your community, for their rights and safety is courageous.

Who are some of the courageous women in your life and why?
Today I am going to say it is Emma Gonzalez. She is standing up strong and using her voice. Emma shows us you don’t have to be THE expert and have all the answers to know the difference between right and wrong. She has a right to speak up and stand up.

What are some misconceptions about courage, in your opinion?

  • Courage is about guns and risking our lives.
  • Courage is stepping out regardless of the cost to others.
  • Courage is loud and white and male and heterosexual.

What advice can you offer women who aren't feeling especially courageous at the moment?
First look at your life with generosity of spirit. Identify three times you have been courageous in your life. Did you know you were being courageous at the time? What were the circumstances? Are you the same person? Thank yourself—be proud of yourself. Now think about three times this month you have moved out of your comfort zone to stand up for yourself or others to take action. OR…Just ask your friends to tell you where they see you being courageous. They know!


We look forward to celebrating
International Women’s Day with you!