Women, Making the Impossible Possible

Rien n’est impossible. Nothing is impossible.

I heard the phrase three times this past week — once in an internal meeting at my company, Skillsoft; once from Christopher Schlaeffer, the patron of iamthecode during our partnership announcement; and the last time in my head … as I neared the finish line of the La Grande Course du Grand Paris Express.

“Rien n’est impossible. Rien n’est impossible.”

Never did I imagine that I would run a 10k in Paris or a 10k at all. It was my first after breaking my ankle two years ago (auspiciously on January 1, 2020). And while it might not seem like an impossible task to some, it certainly felt like one to me. After the great hip-scapade of 2010 (don’t ask — suffice it to say that year boasted surgery and weeks of recovery), I wasn’t sure I could walk. This run felt damn near … well … impossible.

However, I finished it, and I have to say that my sense of accomplishment was all the sweeter because of the physical challenges I’ve faced.

But my très bon accomplissement pales in comparison to the contributions of the women we celebrate this month — many of them still undiscovered and perpetually underappreciated. They have broken barriers, made ground-breaking discoveries (a very personal thank you for inventing physical therapy, Bessie Blount), inspired individuals, communities, and entire countries. And that is, in fact, the purpose of Women’s History Month: to celebrate the often-overlooked accomplishments of women who have made outsized impacts on society.

One such woman, whom I’ve only recently met, is Lady Mariéme Jamme, the founder and CEO of iamthecode. This past week, we were privileged to announce a partnership with this organization, the first African- (and female-) led global movement to mobilize government, the private sector, and philanthropic foundations to advance STEAMD (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, Mathematics, and Design) Education. I’m proud to say that Skillsoft will play a major role in that mission by providing skill-building content and access to Skillsoft’s Percipio platform to tens of thousands of young learners. We will help give them the tools they need to foster development and gain both employment and economic independence.

C’est un privilège extraordinaire.

But it was an even greater privilege to spend time with and learn more about the organization’s founder, Lady Mariéme Jamme, an award-winning technologist and pioneer in system change, who was born in rural Senegal, given away by her mother at an early age and then trafficked in France. With no formal education, Lady Mariéme taught herself to read, write, and code. She now works tirelessly on behalf of young women and girls in Africa to give them a future free of the challenges she herself faced.

I encourage you to take a moment and learn more about this incredible organization with which we’ve partnered.

And then I challenge you to think about your own “impossible task,” (or, as we say here, tâche impossible) that one thing you want to do or see or be … and then write it down.

Remember, rien n’est impossible.

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