IWD: Why being a woman working in PR in the Middle East is the best thing I've ever done

International Women's Day is a reminder that female empowerment is a journey for everyone; it doesn't discriminate.

IWD: Why being a woman working in PR in the Middle East is the best thing I've ever done

My childhood mainly consisted of my parents telling me I can do anything I want to do, be anyone I want to be and go anywhere I’d like to go. The opportunities were boundless. It was a brave and exciting world. As you grow up and reality hits, you find there are boundaries, new challenges, things out of your control, and sometimes people who intentionally make it difficult for you to fulfil your dreams. This is where your true grit comes in.

Some of the most remarkable people have sheer determination to be true to their real potential. They are proud, hardworking, dedicated and most of all, they make it rarely about them - it’s about making other people’s lives better.

As a woman working in PR in the Middle East, I am proud to live in a country where the UAE cabinet has more women in positions of authority than the United States, as well as the youngest minister in the world. International Women’s Day globally and in our region is about celebrating women and marking their plight and achievements. It’s about empowerment and inclusion, celebrating those who paved the way before us, those who we proudly stand next to today, and those who will go on to achieve even more in the future.

It provides an opportunity for all organisations, all groups, all sectors, all genders, all countries to take a stand on issues women are still facing in modern society. It’s the opportunity for women to use what they have available to them to make a difference – for themselves, for other women, for everyone today and for the next generation to come.

International Women’s Day first began 114 years ago, something I honestly haven’t fully thought about until now. How have we been marking this day for so long when there is still so much to achieve?

We achieve much more as women when we support each other, champion each other and are each other’s cheerleaders. Personally, I am inspired by women who are bold, opinionated, yet thoughtful, respectful and kind. There is a balance. You can still be a vocal woman who is considerate. The biggest influences in my life have been my mother, who has fought hard to be the amazing, inspirational person she is today; and my colleague, who wants every woman to succeed, no matter what.

To our industry, where we see many women but not enough in leadership positions. In our region it’s dynamic, evolving and challenging everything we do and think, and it’s allowed us to be nimble and drive our industry forward.

My advice to anyone breaking into the PR field? Own it, be yourself, do it because people tell you that you can’t, show them – and yourself - that you can. And bring them with you – female empowerment is a journey for everyone, it doesn’t discriminate.

Lisa Welsh is MENA managing director at Hill+Knowlton Strategies and vice chair of the Middle East PR Association (MEPRA)

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