We celebrated International Women’s Day 2018 by hosting a discussion with three vivacious women.
Our guests were:
- Sarah Akwisombe - the straight-talking blogger and interior stylist
- Pippa Bhatt - the commercial production expert behind Coterie & MADAM films
- Remi Ray - the fashion entrepreneur and creator of the podcast, The Advise We Didn’t Take.’
Thanks so much to everyone who joined us or watched live. We especially loved the lively chat that followed! There was loads of great insight, generously shared, and these are just a couple of the snippets:
- Pippa gave us some great practical tips on how to be mindful of the gender stereotyped language we use with young kids, gained through her own experience as a mother of two girls, as well as through seeing gender roles played out loudly across the advertising industry.
- Remi shared that two of her business idols are Sara Blakely and Jessica Alba, for the way they have managed to build epic businesses whilst still sticking true to who they are and also whilst supporting other women.
- Sarah discussed how she still comes up against sexism whilst managing her business, and particularly finds it frustrating when she is patronised by corporate contacts, which can feel like pressure to adjust her own personal style - although she definitely has no plans to do so!
This year’s theme for International Women’s Day was Press for Progress. The sentiment is basically about keeping the current momentum going around gender equality. And challenging us to translate that into action. With that in mind, this blog isn’t just a report back, but also thoughts about next steps...
We definitely don’t have all the answers, but we’re going to keep thinking and have drawn a few conclusions to keep us pressing for progress from here:
1. It’s important to help those most in need or whom may be marginalised from the conversation, as a priority. One way we’re doing that is supporting Bloody Good Period - a great initiative to provide menstrual supplies to women who can’t afford them. If you’d like to help, please donate via their website.
2. Whilst we find the word intersectionality really hard to say (without trailing off mid-way through in an awkward mumble), that’s a mini-challenge we’re willing to snap out of, because it’s a sentiment we absolutely support. It’s fair to observe that some of the feminist movements gone-by have largely been championed through the lens of society’s relatively privileged women, so we’ll be thinking about how the next stage can better support all women. Diversifying your sphere of influence is a good way to start. With so much of the UK’s media written by white men, we’ve found gal-dem a refreshing additional news source, written by women and non-binary people of colour – as a mechanism to help readdress the balance of voices defining our news agendas.
3. Gender stereotyping starts young. Apparently it even happens before we are born, with nurses reporting that when parents know the sex of their child they’ll usually describe their baby’s movements as flutters or wriggles if it’s a girl, or kicks and thuds if it’s a boy. We’re definitely going to step up our own kid banter game. No more go-to comments on pretty dresses with little girls or strong big-ups with little boys. We’ll be mixing up the small talk props by focusing on comments about being smart, kind and curious - for all genders.
4. Men need to be championing change. In a similar way that (we assume) you’d assume your heterosexual friend would be against homophobia and prepared to take a stand against it, we need to assume men are pro gender equality, if we believe them to be decent human beings! Talk to the men in your life. Help them get it if they don’t already. Here are a couple of content pieces we’d recommend they check out if they want a place to start to help inform their thinking:
Five women is a great podcast episode from the team at This American Life. It shares perspectives from five women who worked with a guy called out in #metoo. He wasn’t particularly famous and their stories aren’t particularly out there, but it features a whole host of observations about the way society is set up to condition both women and men around what totally weird behaviours are acceptable.
Blogger, Father of daughters, has written an article for Stylist about why he'd like to see men get more involved. He talks about how his experiences as a Father have given him better perspective, but how gender equality is an opportunity all men should embrace.
For a longer read, check out Bell Hook's book, All About Love: New Visions. It's a thought provoker and looks at how men and women are socialized to view love in different ways, including exploring some of the consequences for gender equality.