International Women's DayAPCO is commemorating International Women's Day 2016 by sharing a variety of perspectives from our colleagues around the world. Click here to view all contributions to the series. 

#Pledgeforparity: this is the theme of International Women’s Day 2016. To me it means making every effort to make sure that we keep building a society that values the contributions that women (like men) can give to businesses and society as a whole.

As a woman, manager, and most of all as mother of two little girls, I feel the responsibility to live up to this pledge and be an example. I want them to be aware that, as women, they have a world of opportunities ahead of them. When they come from school, and complain because boys only play at monsters and soccer and don’t want girls around, I ask them “What keeps you from playing monsters and soccer?” I make them think that as women we are lucky: we can play soccer, we can play with boys at monsters, and at the same time we can be princesses, fairies and caring mothers; we can pilot a plane, be engineers, scientists or drive a successful business…. I want to make sure they grow up knowing they can do and become anything they want, without fears.

We have no limits but the ones we create for ourselves, and those that society still struggles to erase. However, they are much less than in the past and I am sure we can tear them down.

I like to think that the little battles I fought in these years, as many other women, are contributing to eliminating the stereotypes. In my career, I have reached important objectives but no doubt I had to fight more and wait longer for recognitions compared to my male colleagues. I had the awful experience of suddenly changing from a precious resource to a “danger” for the organization, as a HR manager that had been chasing me for a long time to hire me learned I was pregnant… as if all my brain had been sucked by the spark of life growing inside of me. Then, once a mother, I felt the pressure – real or perceived, it doesn’t matter - to show my supervisors and colleagues (men and women as well, to be honest) I was still the “old tiger” they remembered.

All this was extremely frustrating, of course; but it has helped me understand that nothing can really stop determined women. Our emotional intelligence, our instinct, our human touch, our sense of community combined with great competencies and multi-tasking capabilities are becoming more and more recognized as being of great value for business organizations, a driver of economic growth and a benefit to society as a whole. We now have examples of great women in business, institutions, science, politics and society that have shown how enriching it is for any organization to have a balance between men and women and nurture diversity.

For us, the challenge is making sure that in this process we do not give up who we are and our peculiar characteristics: we do not have to be like men, we just need to play under the same rules, and be given the same opportunities. Because, I am sure, there are great women behind… every great woman!

Rossella Carrara

Rossella Carrara is deputy managing director for APCO Worldwide’s Rome office. She has 20 years of communication industry experience and specializes in health care. Read More