According to CNN, and more importantly, the oracle that is Marisa Bate, 2018 is the Year of the Woman.
Last year, we reclaimed the term ‘pussy’. We told our stories of sexual assault, and saw some of the public perpetrators lose their reputation forever. We marched on behalf of the girls skipping school because they can’t afford tampons. Malala got accepted into Oxford University. But, and it’s a rather large but; horrible things are still happening to women every day. Women’s refuges are closing. We’re still not receiving equal pay. Sanitary products are still considered luxury items, and these things need to change.
If the Golden Globes are anything to go by, then change is coming in 2018. We can’t singlehandedly adjust legislation, or put abusers behind bars, but we can all take steps to support women. Below are some suggestions of ways you can help other women, yourself and build a community that transcends the barriers of wealth, physical ability, or geographical location.
The Movements To Follow
Places of support, progress, and community.
A very good place to start. The Pink Protest is a collective of activists, working to produce inspiring content and instigate change. From a series of short films entitled “Are you an Activist?” featuring Emma Gannon and Jameela Jamil, to the #FreePeriods movement that dominated parliament back in December, they’re onto something good.
Not quite a movement, but a place for a collective eye-roll. An Instagram page set up by 20 year old Jansma, dedicated to showing the frequency and brazenness of catcallers. You can find her page here.
Pregnant Then Screwed
A movement for mothers suffering the effects of discrimination in all its forms, Pregnant Then Screwed offers legal advice and lobbies for change. If you’re currently pregnant, or have little ones, check out PTS, to find out your rights, and meet other women who dared to interrupt their career to carry a child.
An oldie, a goodie and perhaps my absolute favourite. Laura Bates is the unofficial patron saint of women and her website, books and talks have been imperative to the UK’s understanding of “everyday sexism”. If you feel like it, add your own experiences to the table, or if you’re struggling, there’s a huge community of supportive women and reams of advice on the site.
When Trump labelled Hillary Clinton a “Nasty Woman”, nothing could’ve prepared him, or anyone, frankly for the backlash. Women all over the world reclaimed the phrase, starting with a Nasty Woman Exhibition in New York that raised over $40,000 for Planned Parenthood. The movement took off across the world, and Newcastle recently held the first ever International Nasty Women Conference. Keep an eye out for their next steps, and check out my interview with Nasty Queen, Lady Kitt here.
The Charities To Support
Each of these movements allows for various levels of activism. From events, donations, volunteering, online communities and petitions, make your voice heard.
Bloody Good Period
We’re all aware of the price we pay for menstruating, but Bloody Good Period help women that quite literally cannot afford to bleed. If you can spare a few quid, donate via their website, and if you’re in London, get in touch to see how you can volunteer. If time and money are tight, why not see if you have any unwanted (but nice) toiletry sets to donate. A friend of mine received EIGHT Soap and Glory body butters for Christmas. No one has that much skin to moisturise, so half are on their way to BGP.
The Fawcett Society
We’ve all heard of the Fawcett Society, the leading charity for women’s rights, but it serves as a stark reminder of the power of action. Without Millicent Fawcett, we women would have waited a whole lot longer to put our vote in the ballot box. Become a member, support their campaigns, use their templates to write to your MP, or contribute to their blog.
Women for Refugee Women
Women for Refugee Women work tirelessly to challenge the injustices faced by women fleeing war, poverty and danger. They cover all bases, from grassroots support, arts and the media, and produce game changing research. Show your support by donating time, money or words; keen to share women’s stories, your fiction or non-fiction could make a difference. Most importantly, listen, read and share their work.
The People Keeping You Safe
Initiatives, charities and NPOs set up to support women, and keep us safe.
Safe Gigs for Women
I don’t know a single woman that hasn’t been groped, manhandled, or made to feel uncomfortable at a gig. I have been unwillingly picked up and thrown around by a complete stranger, and had just about every inch of skin pored over by lecherous men. We’ve all had enough, hence the founding of Safe Gigs for Women, who under the support of festival founders, artist and venues, are working to make live music venues safe.
Daughters of Eve
Founded by Nimco Ali, Daughters of Eve is a non-profit working to protect women and girls affected by female genital mutilation (FGM). Long term, they want this practice to be eradicated entirely, and rightly so. Until then, they will continue to offer support, love and advice to victims. Sign their petition to take the debate to parliament.
Ways To Help Your Own Career
Be generous to yourself, too. If you’re looking to kick-start your career, or take your hobby a little further, here’s a handful of initiatives set up to support women.
Entry Level Boss
Not strictly just for women, but Alexa Shoen is the queen of job-hunting. Her talks, newsletters, courses and tweets will make you rethink your approach to applications, interviews and careers. Simple, sassy and faff free.
Both Sides Now
Emerging singers, songwriters and artists listen up. The lovely folks at Brighter Sound in Manchester have recently launched Both Sides Now, a three-year programme to support, showcase and inspire women in music across the North of England.
If you’re looking to start a career in journalism or creative writing, chances are you may have already heard of Myslexia, the magazine for women writers. If not, then fill your boots with their resources, courses, and submit your words.
Go forth and spread joy, FGRLS.