Since childhood, every year on March 8th, my home was filled with the sweet aroma of florals. Every vase we owned became an abode to a bouquet of roses or tulips. The landline would ring throughout the day, receiving calls from family and friends, exchanging niceties and wishing (roughly translated) a “Happy March 8th”. The latter half of the day was spent visiting relatives, neighbors and friends, celebrating International Women’s Day with flowers and sweets.
Growing up in an immigrant household, International Women’s Day was a big deal, rivaling any other holiday. It was a holiday that became known to me as a day dedicated to women. Men and women would bring gifts to the women in their lives as a token of their appreciation. To this day, every January I begin my feverish search for mimosa flowers, traditionally gifted during the holiday, to gift to my mother and grandmother. Given that the season of mimosa is fleeting and not native to Utah, it’s like winning the lottery to find a bouquet by March.
Over time, a celebratory event signified by florals and treats evolved into something more for me. As I navigated through college and jobs, delved into various professional capacities, and grew my own business, I concomitantly began to engage in conversations on equality, rights and breaking the glass ceiling. I realized that March 8th did not start nor end with just exchanging gifts but stemmed from a rich history that started in 1911 and over 100 years grew into a movement where men and women gathered each year to celebrate the advancements of women, fight for gender equality and advocate for issues affecting women.
It is a global day celebrating the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women. Every year a new campaign is released that sparks conversation and action.
This year, it is #ChoosetoChallenge.
A provocation that is rather vague in its description but speaks volumes in that choosing to challenge means to challenge the world in which we live and collectively work together to address systemic barriers and build an inclusive world. And choosing what we challenge could be just about anything.
As professional women, mothers, daughters, friends, neighbors and entrepreneurs, we owe it to ourselves and the women in our lives to break the molds and ceilings in which we have been confined and to continuously rise and bring others up with us.
We must create space to hear other stories and to have us be heard. We must be loud, even if we may be labeled as angry. We must chase after and motivate women to apply for leadership positions, regardless of the surging imposter syndrome some of us may face. We must celebrate each other’s successes and be a resource to other women to achieve their success. We should make space at every table and amplify voices for women driving positive change. And we must tell ourselves we are enough, we are strong, and we can achieve what our younger selves were ambitious enough to perceive.
I know that there is more than one solution to address inequality and system change and some things I mentioned are easier said than done. But if you were to take away one thing from this article, I hope it is this… with every professional woman you learn from, every committee you join, every moment you take to surround yourself with strong women and every opportunity you have to push yourself towards new leadership positions and celebrate your achievements and the achievements of others, you’re a part of the movement.
So don’t just celebrate the achievements of women for March 8th or Women’s History Month, but for every single day by making it a conscious practice. Rise up, raise other women with you and if that happens to come with a bouquet of flowers, good.
Happy International Women’s Day.
Community Director, Impact Hub Salt Lake
Tereza Bagdasarova is a proud Utah native who graduated from Westminster College. She spent two and a half years at the Salt Lake Chamber as the Northern Region Program Coordinator for the Women’s Business Center of Utah (WBCUtah). Working with inspiring female business owners gave her the entrepreneurial bug that led her to open Mosaic Bakery, a virtual Mediterranean and Middle Eastern baklava store, dedicated to celebrating the diverse community of Utah.
She is currently the Community Director for Impact Hub Salt Lake. She is also the co-chair of the South Salt Lake Chamber Women in Business Committee.
In her spare time, Tereza delves into her passions in architecture, small business, urban growth and design by volunteering on a number of small business committees and building out art programming for community youth in South Salt Lake.
ABOUT THE BUSINESS WOMEN’S FORUM: The Business Women’s Forum (BWF) is a program organized by the Salt Lake Chamber where local women managers, executives and entrepreneurs meet to improve their personal development and networking skills through bi-monthly luncheons and mixers. For more information on BWF, visit slchamber.com/business-womens-forum.