CREATIVE PRODUCER/ FASHION STYLIST BIANCA NICOLE PHOTOGRAPHER KLARA WALDBERG - MAKE UP LAURA MARSH - HAIR ABI IGZ - VIDEOGRAPHY CAMILLE ALYSSA - VIDEO EDITOR BRYONY COLES - SET STYLIST LIV SNOWDEN - FLORIST - CHARLOTTE AT PROXY BLOOM - STYLING ASSISTANT- SILVIA PORRU - WORDS/ INTERVIEW BIANCA NICOLE
International Women's Day was conceived from a desire to celebrate the achievements of women around the globe. It is used to highlight this in comparison to the adversities and struggles women universally experience in their everyday lives. There is no more apparent place that women face these adversities than in the workplace of their chosen field.
What are the origins of International Women's Day? International Women's Day found its roots in the early 1900s. This was a period of great unrest and revolutionary change when it came to women's rights. The first-ever IWD was observed in 1910. It was championed by a German activist named Clara Zetkin, who proposed there to be an annual day to not only celebrate women but also increase demands for their rights and autonomy.
This year, the theme of IWD is focused on #BreakTheBias. This centres around removing gender bias from communities, places of education and places of work. With many professions still considered singularly 'man's work', we meet 5 women who choose to pave their own path. Making an overdue and necessary female mark in male-dominated fields.
These women are living proof of the gender boundaries that are being broken in the workplace, both in the UK and worldwide. In their own ways, they all defy the bias society has placed upon them. Each of them leads the way for a new generation of girls who believe they can be whatever they want to be. Not what society tells them they must be.
ROSHANNE DORSETT: entrepreneur
Would you say that you are a feminist?
Absolutely, I think it goes without saying. For sure I am.
What does feminism mean to you?
I think how I see feminism as observing the injustices and the way women are treated in all different sectors no matter what background you’ve come from. To me, it’s a way to even out the playing field. To be constantly educating myself and other people in the stark reality that society is set up predominantly to help the stereotypical status quo which is that the white male succeeds. It is not just to uplift or benefit women. I see it as putting the world to rights.
As a brand owner and entrepreneur, would you say there are any obstacles you face for your gender in your work sector?
Yeah absolutely. I own a beauty brand, and despite the marketing predominantly for women, when you look at the percentage of women beauty brand owners, its only 1% of female founders get VC (venture capital) investment. There is report which tell us, in the UK for every pound of VC investment, all female teams get less than 1p, mixed gender teams get 10p and all male teams get 89p. It is ok when you’re starting out and building but when it comes to growth and expanding, you look for investment and that highlights a barrier that women face. When we go to seek investment, we are most likely to be talking to a predominantly white male board who may not understand women’s issues or the products you are trying to present to them. You could be met with patronising comments, stereotyping or sexism. The stats say it, women do not get near enough funding!
What advice would you give young girls who want to become a business owner?
I would say you’ve got to go for it. You will always face challenges in life, but if it’s something you really want to do, you must take a risk on yourself. It can feel quite isolating going through the business world as a sole female brand owner, but platforms like the Stack World really made me feel like I had a community of women to connect with, help each other grow and uplift each other. They will be there for you too.
What do you think of when you think of feminism?
Necessary, Important and empowering.
SARAH MULINDWA: health
Sarah is a specialist nurse who co-hosts the Channel 4 show 'The Sex Clinic'. During the Coronavirus pandemic, Sarah returned to front-line nursing to support the NHS.
Would you describe yourself as a feminist?
Absolutely I think everybody should be a feminist. I believe in equal rights for everyone, irrespective of their gender identity or background, and yeah, I believe everyone deserves to flourish and have their humanitarian rights.
What does feminism mean to you?
To me, means existing and in a body and existing in a time where we’re still striving for equality as women. Whether that means job or pay equality, when it comes to the policing and rights of our bodies. Being a feminist means not only fighting for my rights, but also for the women now and those who will follow us. We at times forget, or take for granted that it has not been that long since women have been able to vote. I strive to create a space that is empowering for women, I constantly think of my future daughter and granddaughters and how the work we do today will benefit them. For me feminism means continuing that work and it’s not just a one-day thing, it is an everyday thing. It is also not just for women, as it will benefit all genders when women are listened to and valued. Its human rights for me.
Being a nurse, is there any obstacles you face being a woman?
Yes, navigating in the health industry, I have definitely experienced challenges. I remember when I was working in hospitals, particularly with male consultants, you’d almost feel like you’re not listened to, or what you say doesn’t have as much value. It’s the micro-aggressions. You can observe how men are listened to and when they say something it’s taken on board and when you say something, it can be dismissed. When you're passionate about something, it must be because you’re on your period or too emotional. It’s currently striving to be taken seriously and respected. It’s never someone coming out and saying, “oh you’re a woman we don’t care”, it’s the subtle things.
Name a woman who really inspires you and why?
I would have to say my mother. When she immigrated from Uganda in the late '80s she was a teenage mum. She had four kids and didn’t get to finish school in Uganda. When she came here to England she went to university and got her degree as a nurse and she’s the one who encouraged me to become a nurse. She’s the strongest woman that I know, and she’s really empowered me to always go for my dreams, to always work hard, to always strive and to always be kind to people. For me my mum is my hero.
GRACE BLAKELEY: journalism
Grace is a multi-skilled writer. She is an English economics and politics commentator, columnist, journalist and author. Grace currently works as Staff Writer for The Tribune and has previous experience working at The New Statesman as an economics commentator.
Are there any obstacles you face being a woman in your industry?
Plenty! Women like me are judged based on the way we look before we even open our mouths. For the lucky ones - in terms of race, appearance, disability - that assessment might be favourable, but it’s still limiting. People are very willing to dismiss what you say on that basis - which means you have to work twice has hard to be taken seriously. I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve been told I’ve only got to where I am because of the way I look. And there’s an element of truth to that - I’ve certainly had it easier than a lot of my working class, black and brown, trans and disabled friends - but there is absolutely no way anyone would say the same thing to a man.
Is there any drastic differences between the treatment of your female colleagues at work?
I’m self employed, so yes in the sense that I get treated differently by different people on different days but if you look at the different ways women in the media are treated, it’s pretty obvious that, relatively speaking I’ve not had too hard a ride. Women like Ash Sarkar, Diane Abbott and Zarah Sultana receive all kinds of horrendous abuse on a daily basis - and it takes a real toll. People talk a lot about abuse on social media, but no one really understands what that’s like more than black and brown women in the public eye.
What 3 words would you use to describe feminism?
Struggle. Solidarity. Freedom.
Name a woman who really inspires you?
This is probably a bit cringe, but my mum! Her creativity, compassion and determination inspire me every day.
What are your goals for this year?
To finish my book! And maybe try to have some fun in between the writing…
TARA LILY: music
Tara Lily is a Jazz musician from South London. She spent her time creating a distinctive dark R&B sound that can be heard throughout her music catalogue.
What would you say that feminism means to you?
I think for me, it’s about women being treated equally, getting the support they are entitled to and being valued for the work they do. And all women work being valued across the world. Whoever they are.
Are there any obstacles you face being a woman in your field of work?
I feel I’m constantly facing them. For one I’m a woman of colour in a predominantly white male led industry. I was the only women of colour in my time studying Jazz which was very difficult. I had the emotional support from my family to continue with this as my career choice, but normally women are not encouraged to go into jazz. It’s the micro-aggressions that you experience, in the industry, you’re just not seen as smart. As a woman of colour studying music, I was just as qualified as my male counterparts, but I wasn’t seen like that. Being a female singer, you are exposed to a lot of abuse and manipulation in your field.
What are your goals for this year?
My goals for this year are to live my life.
Can you name a woman that really inspires you?
LINA NIELSEN: sports
Lina is a British athlete who specialises in sprinting. She notably won the 400m hurdles race at the 2021 European Athletics Team Championships.
What does feminism mean to you?
It’s representing yourself and what you want to do. I feel like a lot of the time and in history women have had stereotypical jobs. I feel that these days there is more space for women to go into careers paths that they couldn’t go into before. I feel that even in their personal life women have more of a voice and can go for what they want. I’ve been able to work in the sports industry and I have been able to do my dream career. There is something so powerful in that as you represent feminism as is what you want to do. I feel that’s feminism and how it is represented in my life.
Would you say you are feminist?
Definitely! I tried to embodied that every single day for example the stuff I post on Instagram. I try to inspire through my socials and I am always thinking about the young girls who might see it. Especially as when I was younger I think about people I watched like Jessica Ennis-Hill or all these female Olympians. I never knew that was a job you could do. If it wasn’t for them I would not have seen myself doing this career and I want to pave the way for the next generation of women.
What advice would you have for the girls that want to get into the sports industry?
I would say just try to have fun with it at first, especially if you are in your teenage years, there is a lot of pressures already from school to career choices. I would say find something you like and have fun with and keep pursuing it as you never know, maybe a hobby could turn into a career. I feel there can be a lot outside pressures when doing careers like sports, art or music. I feel there is a lot of barriers being a woman. Just listen to your heart, listen to your gut and what your passion is and what you enjoy. Just try to navigate the pressures that might come your way.
In the sport industry do you feel there is any dramatic differences in male and female in the way that you are treated?
I am quite fortunate being in track and field because it is such an individual sport that is down to the individual and there is a balance between females and males. We have so many female superstars in the sport such as Dina Asher-Smith who is a big advocate for sports in the UK. Even from the previous Olympics in Tokyo it was a lot focused on both usually in other sports like football it tends to be more bias towards men.
What are your goals for this year and the next?
Well because of the pandemic, there are three championships this year. The World Championship that was meant to be last year, The Commonwealth which was due this year and the European championship that was pushed back two years.
That’s a lot! Are you doing all of them?
I am going to TRY! Sometimes it’s hard to even do the one championship, you have to get your body primed and ready to compete. So that’s the goal for this year. So in two year’s time we have the Paris Olympics so that’s the long term goal. The next two years are going to be a lot of hard work but I am definitely ready for it!
Can you name a woman who really inspires you?
I have to go for a sportswoman and I am going to go for Helen Glover, she is a rower. She went to the Olympics after becoming a mum and I think that’s a huge movement. I would also like to say Nia Ali who is my training partner who is incredible, she has just had her third baby. After her first baby she became an Olympic bronze medallist. After her second baby she became world champion and she has just had her third baby and looking to retain her champion title. She’s a powerhouse!
What three words would you use to describe feminism?
Empowerment, drive and passion!
A special thank you to all the amazing female founded brands that wanted to support the girls and provided wonderful treats and wellbeing gifts: GLOWCERY, MOCKINGBIRD SPIRIT, CAKE OR DEATH, FREYA, OLIVIA HAVEN, EXPERIMENTAL PERFUME CLUB in 7 DIALS LONDON, FLO & MOCKTAILS