International Women’s Day 2018

Happy International Women’s Day to my lovely readers.

I had had in my mind some vague idea about doing a big #IWD post: share some books by female authors I love, write about the many inspiring women in my life, give a little glimpse into some of the wonderful women-focused work I’ve been able to be involved in with my students this week…but it just didn’t happen. It’s been so ridiculously busy and I just haven’t had the time to put something together. And at first I was really annoyed with myself for not being organised enough to get it done, and disappointed that a day that means so much to me would go unnoticed on my blog. I considered staying up stupidly late just to get something in before midnight and had the absurd, if fleeting, thought that if I didn’t I would have ‘missed the opportunity’…and then I came to my senses. Because although International Women’s Day IS an important day on the calendar, it is NOT the only opportunity to talk about how awesome women are.

So instead of exhausting myself trying to throw something together I am going to go to bed. I am going to read a few pages of some wonderful books written by wonderful women. And I am going to drift off to sleep reflecting on the amazing conversations I have had today and the lovely moments and opportunities I have had and have been able to offer.

But I just wanted to say to all the incredible women out there, you are magic. I am constantly inspired by the achievements, resilience, and passion of the women I am lucky enough to encounter – thank you for being you.

Advertisements

#InternationalWomen’sDay

makeithappen

Happy International Women’s Day lovely people.

I’m hoping to post a few things today about the incredible women (and men) in my life who have inspired and supported me, and who have always stood up for gender equality, as well as some of the excellent events that are going on for you to take part in or follow along with on social media. However before we get to that I know there are some people out there who don’t really understand why we need an International Women’s Day. Who don’t seem to get that inequality and sexism is still rife. If you are not sure what this is all about I urge you to have a read of this.

I also urge you to bear in mind that although I am speaking from (and you may be reading from) a privileged position, living in a country where women have the vote and have a lot of fantastic opportunities, there there is still a pervasion of sexism in our everyday lives. Some of it so ingrained that, unfortunately, we sometimes don’t even notice it ourselves until after the fact. Beyond our own experiences however, we should not forget that there are countless women in the world whose experiences of inequality eclipse any we could imagine. Women who are not allowed to drive a car, purely because they were born female. Women who are not allowed to vote, because they are women. Women who cannot choose what job or career they want to do because their country puts legal restrictions on what jobs they are allowed to do. Women whose husbands purposely disfigure them with acid and who are made to feel like they have done something wrong. Women who are handed long terms of imprisonment for failing to prevent their partners from abusing their children, whilst the partners who perpetrated the abuse walk away after much shorter terms.

Furthermore, the question of equality is not just about improving the lives of women. Achieving gender equality will improve the lives of men as well. Why should men have to go through life unable to express and explore their thoughts and feelings freely, for fear that they will be thought less of a man? Why should boys grow up in a world where they are told ‘big boys don’t cry’ or that certain toys and games are ‘only for girls’. It is time that we stop perpetuating arbitrary ideas about what is acceptable for men and women, boys and girls, and start recognising that we are all people who have the right to experience a full spectrum of human experiences and emotions. That as people we have the right to equality of opportunity, equal recognition of achievement, equal freedom of choice.

Whatever progress we have made, there is more we need to do. Whatever our personal experiences, we need to be standing up for women everywhere, we need to be fighting for each other, because wouldn’t it be great if one day equality wasn’t a question but a given? So let’s start here and now. There is an abundance of exciting things going on today that you can take part in; why not have a mosey on over here and search for events in your area. If you can’t get to any events then follow along on social media. I am particularly excited for Emma Watson’s live stream Q&A for He for She on Facebook, starting at 5pm GMT. Whatever you’re doing this IWD take the time to consider how you can contribute to the fight for gender equality.

Have a great day!

This Girl Can – Empowering or Undermining?

If you haven’t already seen it, you really need to watch the Sport England, This Girl Can video. This one right here:

Now when I first saw it I loved it! I thought “Hooray! Real women who look healthy and happy!”. It made me want to go to dance glass with my friends, go to the gym, get sweaty and not care about it. Even better, for once it wasn’t because I thought I needed to do something to get in shape, or change my body, but because the video reminded me how good it feels to do exercise I enjoy.

Then I read this article which gave me pause for thought. Is the positive message of body acceptance really undermined by the use of the word ‘girl’ as opposed to ‘woman’? It is really still giving in to societal norms of objectifying female flesh?

The article really made me pause and think about the video and the message it was actually sending…and I stick by my original feelings. I think the video is empowering and positive. I think it encourages women to feel comfortable with their bodies and to do exercise, not because it will give them the ‘perfect’ body, but because it will keep them healthy and happy. I don’t feel patronised or undermined by the use of the word ‘girl’ because although I know myself to be a strong independent woman there is, and always will be, part of me that feels like a little girl. The part that finds wonder in everyday things and lets her imagination get wildly carried away with itself and loves disney forever.

I also think the video shows women engaging positively with each other as friends and teammates. I think the whole idea behind the campaign is great and I really hope that it inspires women to feel more comfortable with who they are.

#THISGIRLCAN

😃

Where Women Walk

IMG_0700.JPG

Reading this post over at Midlands Musings, really made me stop and think. It seems that feminism has had a lot of bad press lately. There are too many misconceptions that miss the fact that feminism is a striving for equality. It is not (or certainly not meant to be) about hate.

The ABSA Where Women Walk campaign from August, celebrates the many roles that women are able to occupy in society. It is inspired by the women of South Africa who marched on the Parliament Buildings in Pretoria, in protest against the apartheid pass laws. The march gave a surge to the South African women’s liberation movement and demonstrated the power of women working together.

I love the picture of people uniting to make the world a better place and these histories, and campaigns such as this, give hope and inspiration to women all over the world.

I know I am privileged beyond measure to be a woman where and when I am. There are so many, too many, women (and men!) less fortunate than I. So in reflection on my blessings, and in recognition of the women who have made this life possible, I thought I’d share an insight into where I walk…

I live in a lovely little house with a red door. I walk the wooden floors of my home, that I am awed and honoured to own with my incredible husband. I tread the decking and the grass of my little back garden and the red bull nose step to my front door. I stroll our quiet street to the handy shop round the corner or the cosy café to enjoy a mug of hot chocolate and catch up with friends.

I wander the halls of the school where I work. I can’t even count the number of directions my career has twisted and turned for me to get to these particular halls, but I know I am blessed to live in a time and place where I have had so many opportunities. I hope to wander these halls for a long time to come.

When the day for voting comes around again, I will wend my way to the polling station and exercise my hard won right to vote. To have a voice.

When the time is right I will be able to choose to have children, and then whether to stay at home with them, go back to work or a combination of the two. I am humbled to have that choice.

My path joins with those of my incredible friends and family, my wonderful husband, my encouraging colleagues and the many inspiring strangers whose paths I cross online. What an honour to share the journey with you all.

I thank all the amazing women who have beaten a path before me. Strangers who have protested and fought and died in the pursuit of rights of freedom and equality. Friends who have walked with me, held my hand, pointed me in the right direction and nodded encouragement as I chose my own.

This is the path I walk as a woman, wife, daughter, sister, friend, and everything else that makes me me.

Share your path in support of #WhereWomenWalk .

Wonderful Women

Happy International Women’s day everyone!

Every year the 8th of March is a day for celebrating women. Yay! There are lots of events and campaigns going on and you should definitely pop over to internationalwomensday.com to see what you can get involved in.

I’d like to share with you just some of the amazing women who I am privileged to know and who inspire me daily.

mum

First up had to be my mum. She is an amazing lady and one of my best friends. She owns her own business (anyone need some PR?), she’s creative and compassionate, she keeps me dreaming and grounded at the same time. She has always fought my corner and taught me to fight for myself. She laughs with me, cries with me and I wouldn’t be who I am without her. She also fostered my love of art, books and chocolate, and makes amazing scones and clementine cake. What more could a girl want in her mum? I only hope and pray that one day my kids will feel about me the way I feel about her.

gran

Next up is my gran. She is flat out incredible and one of the strongest people I know. She has had a lot of ups and downs to deal with and always does so with so much grace, constantly putting other people before herself. She has fostered children, adopted animals, and you just ask her about the time she invited a homeless man for Christmas dinner! She pulls our family together with her constant outpouring of love and makes us laugh and share in all good things. Our annual ‘gathering of the clan’ is always a much anticipated event, even now most of  ‘the cousins’ are all grown up. We are such a close and happy family, and it’s mostly down to her.

girlies

The last lovely ladies I am going to talk about are by no means least. They are my two best friends in the whole wide world and I love them to pieces. Rachel and Heather are my cornerstones. They are completely different people but both equally amazing, loving, supportive, encouraging, fun, inspiring and loyal. They are both my sisters from another mother, and so important in my life, I would be lost without them. They are my go to girls to share good news and bad, to giggle with, to sob with, to eat chocolate and drink cocktails with. They also totally get me. And love me flaws and all.

There are ton’s more amazing ladies I could tell you about. I could tell you about my awesome mother-in-law and how encouraging, generous and talented she is. I could tell you about my sister-in-law and how smart and thoughtful and fun she is. I could tell you about my grandma and how constant and loving she was. I could tell you about my step-mum and how strong and determined and lovely she is. I could tell you about all the girls I dance with and how our Monday evenings are more entertaining than anything you’ll find on TV, how they are my own little friend-family. I could tell you about my youth work mentors and the incredible work they do and how important their guidance and friendship has been. I could tell you about women I have known all my life and women I have only met once, women who I have never met but who’s words or work has had an impact on my life. But then I’d be typing FOREVER, and this is already a pretty long post.

Suffice to say there are some super wonderful women in this world and I am blessed to know those I know. So I’d like to send lots of love to these lovely ladies and thank them for all that they are and all that they do. You. Are. Awesome! 🙂

Who are some women who inspire you?