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  • Writer's pictureVivienne Mutembwa

International Women's Day: A Call to Action

Updated: Apr 6, 2022

Happy International Women’s Day 2022! Today is all about celebrating the social, economic, cultural, and political achievements of women, whilst signalling a global call to action for accelerating gender parity. This year’s theme #BreakTheBias refers to the unconscious or conscious biases, stereotyping, and discrimination that continue to contribute to the amplification of the gender gap between men and women within our communities. Whether it is during peace, war or a pandemic, women remain the most vulnerable, yet are firm when stepping up to meet the challenges of the time.

What can be done to #BreakTheBias

Meaningful change comes with acknowledgement and understanding. This also applies to gender bias. Creating the space to recognise and challenge biases and their consequences is essential to #BreakTheBias.

"It's about supporting and giving passionate individuals (beyond gender, race, background or experiences) the opportunity to use their voice, and empowering them to do great things."

― Shamane Tan, Cyber Risk Meetup Founder

Advocacy, Inclusive Mindsets and Tangible Action

Advocacy can take two main forms self-advocacy and advocacy from allies, embracing both is important. Our mindsets influence how we perceive and interact in society. An inclusive mindset enables us to continuously evolve and adapt to our environment, which is an indication of growth. Effective change is often a result of intentional and tangible action. These principles apply to how we can collectively #BreakTheBias.

Cyber Risk Meetup has adopted the #IWD2022 theme as one of its focus areas for impactful initiatives this year. The intention is to encourage all forms of advocacy, foster inclusive mindsets and drive the participation in tangible actions toward gender parity outcomes.

“Your beliefs become your thoughts, your thoughts become your words, your words become your actions, your actions become your habits, your habits become your values, your values become your destiny.”

― Mahatma Gandhi

Women Leadership Empowerment

According to the McKinsey & Company's Women in the Workplace Report 2021, there has been an increase in women’s representation across the corporate pipeline since 2016. However, when it comes to the leadership stage, women remain significantly underrepresented – particularly women of colour. Other similar research has produced compelling evidence that diversity in senior management roles increases organisational performance.

As part of addressing the underrepresentation of women in leadership, Cyber Risk Meetup has established the Women Leadership Empowerment program. This collaborative program aims to be a platform for women across the globe to come together, develop connections, collaborate, and share valuable experiences and lessons to help overcome challenges in their careers. With group style deep-dive and enriching conversations, the program seeks to inspire women to become agents of possibility; helping women advance in the workplace and achieve personal growth.

"A strong believer in collaboration, I am sure that by coming together, sharing our journeys, focusing to address the root cause, building confidence, courage, and conviction, and empowering each other, we can change the status quo and unleash the potential and power within! Innovating, collaborating, being authentic, humble, and empathetic and lifting others up are the most important leadership traits I stand by.”

― Neha Malhotra, Cyber Risk Meetup Women Leadership Empowerment Lead

Global Mentoring for Cybersecurity (GMFC)

Mentorship, whether formal or otherwise, is part of any successful career journey. It requires time and commitment to planning and executing actions that form building blocks for achieving key career milestones and goals. The opportunity to be both a mentor and a mentee, provides an invaluable retro and forward perspective experience. Research documented in McKinsey & Company’s Women in the Workplace Report 2021 states that ‘women leaders are doing more than their share of mentorship and sponsorship. Men in senior leadership outnumber women 2 to 1—but employees are equally likely to say that women and men leaders have supported their career development. This means women are shouldering roughly double the load of mentorship and sponsorship.’

“I successfully transitioned to the exciting world of cybersecurity and now I work as APAC Information Security Officer with one of the largest asset management organisations in the world. It’s been a truly incredible journey, and none of this was possible without having good leaders to mentor me all along the way.”

―Pooja Shimpi, Cyber Risk Meetup Global Mentorship Affairs Lead

The Global Mentorship for Cybersecurity (GMFC) program by Cyber Risk Meetup was established in February 2022 with the mission to bring together highly skilled and experienced cybersecurity professionals from diverse background as mentors, and mentees who are intending to join or grow in the cybersecurity industry. The free 6-week guided program will enable the development of strong mentor-mentee partnerships, with a goal to uplift and guide the mentees to meet their cybersecurity related goals.

Applications opened earlier this year and there was an overwhelming response. Diversity and inclusion were at the forefront of the selection process and resulted in successfully enrolling 39 individuals into the inaugural GMFC cohort. The participants are from 9 countries and 19 different cities, with a 51% women representation. More than half of the women participants are mentees and more than half of the men participating are mentors. Most of the mentees are freshers or experienced professionals with limited exposure or experience in the cybersecurity industry. The expected outcomes for GMFC include helping to bridge the gap of cybersecurity workforce talent.

Stay tuned to our socials for updates on impactful activities under these programs and how you can be involved as a participate or an ally to #BreakTheBias.

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