International Women's Day- The Importance of our story in making history

2018 marks 100 years since some women in the UK were given the right to vote. 100 years is a close enough period of time to be able to imagine being a woman at that time and as I have been reading stories of Emmeline Pankhurst unfurling a banner 'vote for women’ at the Freetrade Hall in Manchester or Millicent Fawcett gathering signatures from communities around the country it has left me wondering about the actions I would have taken.

 4 year old Jemima questioning pictures of women in big hats and sashes writing on walls to demand the vote

4 year old Jemima questioning pictures of women in big hats and sashes writing on walls to demand the vote

 

Would I have been brave enough to throw a rock through a shopfront window or strong enough to have gone on hunger strike or patient enough to present a rational case for change again and again? Reading the history of these changemakers has also led me to question what is it that I am standing up for now? 

During the recent #metoo campaign I found it easy to like facebook posts and retweet and even share stories. However taking a stand for action beyond storytelling required more of me. It required courage, tenacity, patience and teamwork. The action I took started as an instinctive action- I supported someone in telling their story. My expectations were that once the story was shared others would take action. Instead my experience was no action was taken, so I encouraged the story to be shared with someone else and someone else until there was enough momentum for a conversation about the optimal action to take.

As I was going through this process I became aware of the importance of encouraging someone to share their story and I realised it takes a team to share a story and make a change. It seems strange to be sharing a story about ‘encouraging someone else to share their story’ but this International Women’s Day as we #PressforProgress I’m conscious that its not my story that matters- its our story, the story of being a woman. Our ongoing story of standing up for rights or norms that are withheld for reasons that never seen to make sense.

Why isn’t it normal for men and women to be paid equally, for schools to phone fathers 50% of the time children are ill, for women to be 50% of the boardroom in business’ around the world. The story of being a woman is also one of beautiful strength and compassionate collaboration that makes positive change possible. Over the last few weeks I have written over 100 short stories about women who have inspired, empowered and supported me in my life journey (so far) and this practice has made it clear to me that no matter the inequalities which exist in the world, we women have the ability to ensure positive change. From our history of suffragettes to our contemporaries who are #Metoo campaigners sharing stories of women is how the world changes.

-Fiona Pelham

‘There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.'- Maya Angelou

If you are inspired to share a story of a woman who has inspired, supported or empowered you or you want to read one of the 100 stories please visit: https://www.positiveimpactevents.com/girls-creating

 

From suffragettes to #Metoo campaigners, the story of being a woman