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International Women’s Day Q&A

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To celebrate International Women’s Day, we spoke with six women who continually inspire and challenge us. This day is all about uplifting one another, fighting the good fight, checking our own privilege and showing the varying ways women are shattering that blasted glass ceiling. Below, we chat to Portia Ferrari, Beccy Hill, Gabby Edlin, Venus Libido, Hannah Hastings and Sophie Sulehria. Hold on tight, inspiration by the bucket load is headed your way…

PORTIA FERRARI

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Portia, the self-confessed creative hustler, is the epitome of a multi-faceted career woman. From modelling, to acting and being an MUA – her energy is infectious. Check her out HERE.

What does International Women’s Day mean to you?

International Women’s day to me is a day about remembering the power of being a female and how much of a blessing it is. The variety of women in the world is what makes us all so beautiful. Banding together to support and demand respect for each other is what the world needs right now. It’s a salute to each and every one of us that is here.

Where do you want International Women’s Day to grow and develop?

I think it’s important to take part in female based community activities, big or small, to understand the responsibility we have to look after each other and setting a great example for the next generation of women. The more conversations that are made now, the better the world will be tomorrow.

Tell us about your feminist journey, in 5 words?

Strength, justice, understanding, self-love and acceptance

What advice do you have for young women and non-binary folks growing up in this world?

Speak your truth, it absolutely will set your fears free. Never give up on chasing your dreams and never give up on yourself. You can do and be anything you put your mind to. Stay positive and be kind to yourself.

Who are some women who inspired you on the daily?

Any story of a woman that has overcome great strife by not giving up hope and not allowing it to deter them. History is full of them, and I am inspired by all of them.

What are you most passionate about changing and challenging, regarding women’s issues, in 2018?

It’s time for society to drop the old ideas around what it is to be female and what role a female must play. We say how we should live and dress and act. We are all and everything imaginable that a human being can be- more than anyone probably even can comprehend, even that we can comprehend, so no longer will we be ‘given away’ at our weddings. We were never anyone’s to give away in the first place! It’s so important to stand together and speak out about our issues and pain. There is so much strength in that! Today is a new day. 2018 is a new year, the energy is crazy…it’s everywhere.

 

BECCY HILL

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Beccy, AKA the Founding Editor of Sister Magazine, has spearheaded the brilliant bi-annual zine since 2012. Check out all things Sister HERE.

What does International Women’s Day mean to you?

It’s an important day to not only celebrate women and our achievements but also to highlight the inequality and challenges that we unfortunately still face.

Where do you want International Women’s Day to grow and develop?

I’d like it eventually to just be a day of celebration, with no need for protest.  

Tell us about your feminist journey, in 5 words?

Five words aren’t long enough!

What advice do you have for young women and non-binary folks growing up in this world?

I’m aware that I come from a position of privilege, being a cis white heterosexual woman, so I don’t want to sit here and tell everyone to be themselves, because I know that isn’t always possible.  However, I would say to stay safe, find your people, find what makes you happy, and tune out the negative noise.

Who are some women who inspired you on the daily?

It changes, I always seek out and get obsessed with different people. Right now I’m really inspired by the poet Yrsa Daley-Ward who is on the cover of our new issue, and I am never not inspired by my mum. She is the strongest woman I know.

What are you most passionate about changing and challenging, regarding women’s issues, in 2018?

The gender pay gap. I’m bored of talking about it, and I’m sure all other women are too. Also #TimesUp – I want to see all this hashtag activism lead to concrete and solid change, in and out of the workplace.

 

GABBY EDLIN

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Founder of BloodyGoodPeriod, Gabby’s work is more than inspirational. Providing period supplies to asylum seekers, refugees and those who can’t afford them. Get involved HERE.

What does International Women’s Day mean to you?

It mostly tends to be a day of explaining to men that International Men’s Day is, in fact, on November 19th.

Where do you want International Women’s Day to grow and develop?

Into a year and then forever?

Tell us about your feminist journey, in 5 words?

From Atwood to Eddo-Lodge

What advice do you have for young women and non-binary folks growing up in this world?

You should never feel comfortable in your feminism, you’ve always got more to learn.

Who are some women who inspired you on the daily?

My sister, Lois has set up the first Body Positivity in Real Life group in London which I think is just brilliant and brave. Also the Bloody Good Period volunteers who put their ALL into what they do, around their bloody jobs and lives!

What are you most passionate about changing and challenging, regarding women’s issues, in 2018? An open, honest discussion and treatment of periods throughout society.

 

VENUS LIBIDO

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Venus, the Instagram-fave illustrator, is fighting misogyny one piece at a time. Her art will make you laugh and cry at the same time. Check her work out HERE.

What does International Women’s Day mean to you?

International women’s day is a celebration of progressive changes for women. It is about celebrating and supporting ALL women.

Where do you want International Women’s Day to grow and develop?

I hope that we can continue to listen, learn and educate. To create a world that is equal for all. To support not just woman’s rights but human rights.

Tell us about your feminist journey, in 5 words?

NOT BEING SILENCED AND MAKING NOISE!

What advice do you have for young women and non-binary folks growing up in this world?

To be brave, be bold, be heard!

Who are some women who inspired you on the daily?

Thats a hard one to narrow down. Recently I have been inspired by Ericka Hart, The slum flower (Chidera Eggerue), Sara Pascoe, Stacey Dooley and soooo many more, I could go on for ages…

What are you most passionate about changing and challenging, regarding women’s issues, in 2018?

I want to continue to do my part in dismantling the Patriarchy. I hope that through my work I can continue to inspire and educate others to be confident and brave.

SOPHIE SULEHRIA

Renowned BBC reporter for PM on Radio 4 and Inside Out, Sophie’s challenging the way society views fertility.  Discover more about her story HERE.

What does International Women’s Day mean to you?

For me, International Women’s Day is a reason to celebrate women’s achievements, and also to remind ourselves not to feel like a total failure when we don’t manage to achieve our goals.

It’s been 5 years since my husband and I started trying for children. I was diagnosed with endometriosis and premature ovarian failure in my early 30s and after 6 rounds of IVF failed, we haven’t as yet managed to have our baby.  But as I head into early menopause at 35, I am keen to remind myself that it’s not my fault. I have not failed as a woman just because I can’t have a baby. The ways I have spoken to myself over the years – the guilt and failure I have felt over a predetermined medical condition, and the pressure I have put myself under – all no more.

It’s also crucial to keep shining that spotlight on IWD’s original message – that we are all equal.  That we should have a voice. That we shouldn’t keep apologising as women, or feel like it’s always our fault.  Gender equality is important, and until it exists, we must continue to highlight.

#PressforProgress.

Where do you want International Women’s Day to grow and develop?

I think it’s crucial to keep it focused, keep it relevant, keep it fresh.  It’s wonderful that IWD has managed to remain meaningful and attractive to new and young feminists wanting to make a difference – make a change.  

Tell us about your feminist journey, in 5 words?

Failure. Desperation. Support. Love. Friendship.

What advice do you have for young women and non-binary folks growing up in this world?

It all gets better!  I’m still learning that, but apparently, it’s true.  I would hate to go back to some of my teenage years, and indeed my early 20s. I wish I’d spent more time looking after me instead of worrying about what others thought of me. My health was under attack and I didn’t push for a diagnosis hard enough, as I didn’t want to make a fuss. MAKE a fuss!  If you think something is wrong with your periods, don’t be embarrassed, don’t be shy, shout about it – no one else is going to do it for you.

Who are some women who inspired you on the daily?

Is it so boring to say, my mum, my family, and my friends?  Because sadly it’s true. They are the women I surround myself with on a daily, and for good reason.  These relationships have lasted my whole life – this core group of women I’ve proudly collected up since birth.  My friendships found during those wonderful yet treacherous school and uni years when life felt so hard, but also so exciting and full of promise.  People I know I can trust and depend on because I always have. We’ve seen everything together. First love, first heartbreak. Exam failures, exam success.  Career highs, lows, and the in-betweens. Good health, poor health. Happy times, hard times. And in more recent years, grief and sadness. We’ve been through it all together.  And when I do not have the words, one of these women will. All these life experiences handled with honesty and truth so we can learn from each other. My mum, also a constant source of love and support – intelligent, wise, and always there.  I have learnt so much from all these women: How to love. How to laugh. How to travel. How to cook. How to tell a story. How to live through pain and keep going. How to be strong and not be scared of the future, or what other people think. And when the time comes, I know they’ll be there to support me in how to be a mum – in whatever form that takes.

What are you most passionate about changing and challenging, regarding women’s issues, in 2018?

In truth, I think it’s just self-belief and contentment.  It’s a road I am still walking, and it’s a rocky one, but it’s one I intend to finish.  Such a cliché, but so true: you wouldn’t dream of talking to someone else like you talk to yourself.  Can you imagine? You’d be arrested for harassment. I can be truly hideous to myself sometimes, whether that be what I look like, to what I’ve failed to achieve.  Instead of celebrating myself, I’m always thinking about how I could have been better – it’s my worst flaw.

 

HANNAH HASTINGS 

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Hannah is Head of Brand at Peanut, the matchmaking app for mamas to meet other mamas. Download the app HERE.

What does International Women’s Day mean to you?

It’s a celebration of women, from all around the world, from all walks of life. It’s an important spotlight on our achievements and the issues that affect us.

This year’s theme, ”Press For Progress” is an important reminder that we have to continue pushing for true equality, while also celebrating recent movements and how far we’ve come, i.e #MeToo, #TimesUp, 2018 being the 100 year anniversary of women being able to vote!

Something that really resonates with me is “Individually, we’re one drop, but together we’re an ocean”. This is something I see across Peanut, when women unite, amazing things can happen.

Where do you want International Women’s Day to grow and develop?

More celebration, more encouragement and more confidence! I think highlighting what we have achieved so far is the best motivator for us to do more. Given the events of this year, I also hope that women have increased confidence to talk about issues that affect them, inspiring more women to join the conversation.

Tell us about your feminist journey, in 5 words?

SET. GOALS. AND. CRUSH. THEM.

What advice do you have for young women and non-binary folks growing up in this world?

You are never inferior and we as ‘’people’’ shouldn’t be made to feel divided. We are all responsible for creating change.

Who are some women who inspired you on the daily?

Michelle Kennedy (Founder of Peanut) – Michelle disrupted the motherhood market. She wasn’t afraid to challenge the stereotypes that came with motherhood. She has encouraged women to unite – not just because they’re mothers – but because they’re women. Michelle blows up some of the judgments and thoughts of how mothers should look and act. She proves that you can be an amazing mama, run a successful tech business, be a wife, a best friend, while being fabulous, fun and fierce.

My Mama – My mother is a force. She is generous, caring, and always putting others before herself. When people say a person lights up a room I think it sounds so cliche, but it’s true about My Mama. She encourages and inspires me daily – always telling me to go the extra mile in everything that I do. She is generous, she is funny, she makes me strong, and offers advice when needed. My Mama is my champion!

What are you most passionate about changing and challenging, regarding women’s issues, in 2018?

Throughout my career, I’ve always noticed that women are lagging when it comes to leadership roles in business.  Only 26 women are in CEO roles at Fortune 500 companies. I think it’s important that businesses are encouraged to recognise equality in the workplace. I think women should be encouraged to have confidence in the workplace – want a pay rise? ask for it. A man would. We must speak up and speak confidently regardless of what we face. I think as women, we often fear rejection; however, respect comes when we voice ourselves. I’d like to see women taking more risks and taking on more challenges. If we know what we want, we should go and get it!

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