Women's health advocate and CEO Leslie Heyer tells us why 2018 is the year of smashing the patriarchy
You better believe that 2018 is the year of the woman. For too long in our society (and our world), men have held the most power (in government, religion, the work place etc.) and they have abused that power. Not only has that position been used to make women feel small, it has also seriously disadvantaged us in the physical realm. In addition to the #MeToo movement bringing attention to the prevalence of sexual harassment and assault, the gender pay gap still exists and the President of the United States supports sexist policies and reveals his misogyny regularly (which teaches other men that sexist and misogynistic behavior is okay).
Thankfully, these patriarchal institutions and norms are being crushed daily, and I got the chance to talk to Leslie Heyer — Harvard Business grad, social entrepreneur, women’s health advocate, and CEO of Cycle Technologies — about what the future of womanhood looks like. Heyer’s company, Cycle Technologies, helps women to safely prevent or plan for pregnancies. Six million women in 60 different countries are served by Cycle Technologies, and the company partners with several global health organizations, including International Planned Parenthood Federation, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Institute for Reproductive Health, and United Nations Population Fund. Reproductive health is key, so Cycle Technologies’ services are vital.
About feminism, Heyer tells me, “This past year has been a wakeup call. I’m excited for 2018 because I think we’re going to see a real change with women stepping into leadership roles and working together to make a difference.” It is so important to discuss how feminism should evolve. Cookie cutter feminism is fake, ineffective, and limited to pink uterus stickers. There is a real change upon us, and we will be the ones to facilitate it. We have to come together, share information, encourage each other, and rise above to become who we are meant to be.
Catch my talk with Heyer below to get wisdom from a hardworking woman who is serious about improving the future.
HelloGiggles (HG): What did 2017 teach you about womanhood?
Leslie Heyer (LH): I think 2017 was a reminder that women are incredibly powerful – especially when we work together.
HG: What prompted you to go into business for yourself?
LH: I saw an opportunity to make a difference. No one else was going to do it and I saw a path.
HG: What is your dominant emotion for the upcoming year?
HG: How has society’s perception of women changed? Has it changed at all?
LH: I don’t know if society’s perception has changed that much in the past year, but I do think that there has been an overall better understanding of the challenges that women face. We have opened our eyes to the fact that women have to deal with sexism on a daily basis. And that it is so entrenched in our culture and our lives, that we often don’t even see it anymore. It’s like wallpaper that’s been in your house for 20 years. But it has a very real impact. We are finally talking loudly about the many cultural and institutional barriers that hold women back, and what we need to do to change the way “the world works.”
HG: Any advice to women seeking growth as they fight to change the world?
LH: It’s corny, but I think Gandhi’s quote has never been truer: “Be the change you want to see in this world.” We all have a newfound appreciation for the idea that we can’t sit back and hope others figure out how to fix things. We have to be at the table fighting for what we believe in, rather than assuming that someone else will do it.