International Women’s Day, Tuesday 8th March 2018, was celebrated at BCU with a week-long collection of workshops, guest speakers and film screenings.
A royal visit from Prince Harry and Megan Markle to Millennium Point honoured the day itself, with the visit aimed at encouraging women to pursue careers in STEM – science, technology, engineering and maths – subjects. The celebrations addressed and raised awareness of issues relating to gender equality, women’s issues and the shortage of women in higher education.
BA (Hons) Media and Communication student
Some highlights of the BCU activities started on the Monday, with a launch of a ‘Women of Eastside’ photo project at Curzon building. This explored the lives and experiences of women living, working or visiting Eastside.
On Tuesday 8th the momentous day began with a ‘Gender, sexism and attachment theory’ workshop hosted by Lydia Guthrie. Lydia hosted an interactive workshop around the theme of attachment theory, in particular the myths of maternal deprivation if a woman chose to opt out of becoming the traditional stay at home mum. Lydia also addressed the guilt surrounding women leaving children and in general sexism in the workplace.
The Big Read also took place in the Parkside atrium, with staff and students – many from Media courses – reading aloud from women writers every 15 mins throughout the day. There was also a pop up reading room with research and debate going on.
The following day, ‘He Named Me Malala’ was screened in the IMAX Auditorium; this film follows the story of Malala Yousafzai, the women’s rights activist who fights for all women to have an education in her home country Pakistan. Malala was shot in the head by the Taliban in 2012 and is now a Nobel Peace Prize winner studying at Oxford University.
On the Thursday, a women’s creative entrepreneur lunch/networking event was held and hosted by Nathania Atkinson. The aim of the session was to empower women and help them in their pursuit to become of entrepreneurship. Later that day, 'Sistas in the Struggle' was hosted by Kehinde Andrews to discuss the radical feminism of the Black Panther and feminist activism.
It is so important to keep fighting for equality like the Suffragettes did over a hundred years ago. Today, the battle fought by the #MeToo movement (which actually began in 2006 by Tarana Burke) allows women to open up about sexual assault and harassment. This movement led to the Hollywood #TimesUp campaign with many women in 2018 speaking out about being victims of such abuse.
The finale of the week came from Alumni guest speaker Deb Leary OBE, who is the founder and CEO of the international company, Forensic Pathways. She spoke of the successes and challenges of women in the workplace.
On a wider scene, International Women’s Day also coincided with the Gender Pay Gap Report, in which major companies from all offices and fields in the UK with more than 250 employees had to file reports with the Government Equalities Office (GEO). The gender pay gap made for depressing reading, where companies such as HSBC, the BBC and others, revealed huge discrepancies in the pay divide. Phase Eight was one of the worst offenders, where women earn 65% less an hour than men.
As a woman about to enter the commercial world, the topic of equality is critical – let’s address it now and not in 100 years’ time as they predict.