Holding Up Half The Sky

Holding Up Half The Sky

“Women Hold Up Half the Sky”

Traditional proverb

Russia may not have a spotless reputation when it comes to inclusiveness, but Russian women have struck notable blows for equality, not just on this planet but also several hundred miles above it.

On this day in 1963 Valentina Tereshkova was completing 48 orbits of the earth on a pioneering three day mission. She was the first woman in space, and almost six decades later this remarkable woman is still reaching. Now aged 84, she recently volunteered to be among the first pilots on a planned one-way mission to Mars.

Among those who followed in her footsteps was Elena Serova, who spent five months on the International Space Station in 2014 and 2015. At a press conference prior to launch, Serova was understandably irritated by journalists asking how she planned to maintain her hairstyle during the mission. Seven years of intensive training and an impeccable service record did not prepare her for the fatuous journalism she encountered, but it prepared her perfectly for the rigours of space travel and for the fresh challenges she would face back on planet Earth. In 2016 she was elected to the Russian Federal Assembly and her accomplishments and what they stand for inspire young women every day.

The space station itself stands for something remarkable too. For over 20 years it’s been a place of cooperation, and has been occupied by astronauts of 19 different nationalities. Communication between them and with Earth has been managed by a range of systems, and hardware failures, while infrequent, always put lives on the line. In 2017 the ISS made what we consider a very wise decision and launched a cloud solution. For the past four years, professional women and men floating 250 miles above the Earth’s surface have had their communication and their lives safeguarded by a faster, more innovative, more flexible solution that literally helps them speak to the world. At this moment, Megan McArthur, an American oceanographer and engineer, is on the space station doing just that.

Cloud technology and language technology in particular can be a powerful social equalizer. It can build a bridge to social and economic empowerment. At XTM International we believe that refining communication technology is the surest way to empower our clients, our partners and our friends to reach out across physical and cultural borders.

Even when those borders exist beyond the stars. In September 1977 Voyager One was launched on a mission to explore beyond the boundaries of our solar system. To date it has travelled over 12 billion miles from earth. On board is a spoken greeting in 55 languages. Whoever and whatever is out there, we want them to know that we speak in many languages. And, curiously enough, that’s the best way to show that we can speak with one voice.

Women certainly do hold up half the sky. It’s reassuring to know that there’s a woman holding it up 250 miles above us right now, and she’s doing it with the aid of communication tools tailored precisely to her needs. The best of technology and the best of humanity are working together, up there beyond the clouds and also here on Earth.


Who are the women who’ve inspired you in your life? Who has made you reach for the stars? Share your stories of the women who motivate you to do better.