Today is International Women’s Day and this years theme is #EachforEqual. I wanted to take the opportunity to do an extra blog post as I think it is important to mark this day. As a white, straight, able bodied woman I have over the last few years become more aware of the privilege that this automatically gives me and I am grateful for that. Growing up my parents and my school told me I could do anything and be anything and I believed them. I never felt that I had been affected by gender inequality and that it was predominantly something that happened to women in other countries. Until recently.
The rise of the #metoo campaign and the gender pay gap results show that even here in an affluent democratic country we still have a way to go to achieve gender equality. There have been some big steps forward with a rise in flexible working and the introduction of shared maternity/paternity leave so that the emphasis on taking time out of the work place isn’t disproportionately placed on women but I believe the take up of this is still relatively low as our societal norms make both mothers and fathers believe they will be judged at work by moving away for the accepted standard.
I think it is easy to stay in our own bubble which is safe and do our own thing but International Women’s Day is a great way to remind ourselves not only of where there is still a mountain to climb to reach equality, but also of the amazingly inspirational women that are out there making that difference – whether big or small. So I thought I’d use this blog to highlight some of the organisations that I have become aware of who campaign and inspire me and who might inspire you too.
I recently attended a conference with the charity #pregnantthenscrewed which really opened my eyes to the discrimination which is still common in the workplace for women, particularly when they become mothers. The charity do some fantastic work in raising awareness and supporting women in this position. It was founded by Joeli Brearley after she suffered pregnancy discrimination. Since the charity began Joeli has been contacted by many women who have experienced similar situations and share their stories on the website. Have a read of their ‘Mumifesto’ https://pregnantthenscrewed.com/manifesto-for-ending-pregnancy-and-maternity-discrimination/
Inspirational 2020 conference
At the conference I also became aware of the Women’s Equality Party (https://www.womensequality.org.uk/news) where their current leader, Mandu Reid was speaking. The party was founded by journalist Catherine Mayer and broadcaster Sandi Tosvig following the 2015 Women of the World festival in London. They campaign in parliament for equal rights for women and changes to legislation. If nothing else have a read of their news page which highlights both successes and the continuing challenges in the fight for equality.
I also sponsor a child in Peru with Plan International UK and they spend a lot of time and effort advocating for the rights of women and girls in developing countries as well as in the UK – they have some amazing inspirational stories of girls around the world who are standing up against forced marriage, withholding of education and other issues of inequality. These women are changing the world in their own way. See how they ‘act for girl’s rights’ https://plan-uk.org/act-for-girls
Since starting Salvia Glass and in my previous corporate role I have met and worked with a great group of women who have supported me in difficult times and built me up when I felt a lack of confidence and I hope they feel I did the same for them – we have laughed and cried together. There can be a special bond that happens between a group of women whose goal is to build each other up.
As for how I can create a more #eachforequal society – well I have a husband who is a more outspoken feminist than I am, and two boys who I am hopefully raising to see that women’s contribution to society and the world at large should be equally as impactful as that of men. I challenge them when they make assumptions about boys being stronger, faster, cleverer than girls (because they do!) or when they look at something and assume it is for boys/girls. Although I also acknowledge I can’t stop them wanting to play with cars or to be a footballer, I make sure they know that these are not ‘boy things’ rather just ‘things’. I hope they grow up to challenge inequality when they see it because equality for women is not a ‘women’s issue’, it requires all of us to instigate change.
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