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“Women understand. We may share experiences, make jokes, paint pictures, and describe humiliations that mean nothing to men, but women understand. The odd thing about these deep and personal connections of women is that they often ignore barriers of age, economics, worldly experience, race, culture — all the barriers that, in male or mixed society, had seemed so difficult to cross.” — Gloria Steinem

We celebrate Women’s Day in South Africa on 9 August, so today is an opportunity to talk about the most important people in my life – almost all of them women.

I am so lucky. I have always had extraordinary women in my life – sisters, friends, mentors, colleagues, clients. Gloria Steinem’s quote rings so true. My friends have come from all walks of life, cross cultures and continents, age and experience.

Women have been the central cast of characters in my journey. My tribe are entrepreneurs, mothers, teachers, healers, lawyers, grandmothers, artists. They’re funny, talented, fallible human beings.

A life with phenomenal women

We’ve laughed, cried, laughed until we cried, gone on extraordinary adventures and sat at home Saturday nights and New Year’s Eve watching television. We’ve marched, danced, sailed, walked, climbed. When together, we never stop talking unless our mouths are full, we’re crying with laughter, or we we’re sleeping.

We’ve loved and lost, some have wisely found love along the way – great men that understand not to get in the way of old friends. They’ve been with me to celebrate and grieve. They’re all strong. I know they’re always there, knowing when to talk, and when to listen. They’ve watched as I’ve walked into trouble and made the same mistakes and mis-judgements, and are always there to smooth things over and try and make me feel better – in fact – the best version of myself.

I love my tribe. I would do almost anything for them. I am eternally grateful for their wisdom, encouragement, empathy, and most of all, their unconditional love.

We have different opinions about a lot of things – but fundamentally want a better world for our kids and grandkids. Justice. Equality. A safe space to live and thrive.

In this time of Covid – where the countries run by women are doing far better than those not – we don’t need any more proof that we can. That we’re good enough, strong enough, smart enough, funny enough, pretty enough. Make sure to let your tribe know – especially whilst we navigate our new normal. And while you’re at it, make sure their daughters know it too!

Here’s the thing: women live longer than men, so we should really have more of a say in how the future is shaped, and take control of how we’re going to age. The thought of not being able to head off on new adventures, or even travel long distance to see my friends because of my own physical limitations drives me to take care of myself – and to constantly encourage (nag, they might say) my friends who don’t! Just imagine: missing out not because of something out of your control – but something that you can. So take care of your stability, mobility and flexibility – of body and brain – so that just as your friendships that stand the test of time, so can your body!

Liz Grantham