WE Southwark Blog

Fearless Women

On Monday the 20th November, WE were delighted to hold another inspirational event for our members, supporters and friends: ‘Fearless Women’. Our aim was to give these couragous women, who are bravely stepping into areas unknown, a platform to tell their stories. Whether it be sport or outdoor pursuits and challenges; coverage of women and their stories in this area is grossly under-delivered.

First up was Antonia and Leanne from Body Shot PT, who work with professional men and women who want to remove all the guesswork around their health, fitness and nutrition.

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Leanne told us her story of how she got into boxing for the first time and how that led to her taking part in her first ever boxing match, against another female competitor. She described the training she underwent, her experience of her match and most importantly perhaps - what she learnt from the experience. Of course, she wanted to win, but she was in hindsight happy with the draw as a result. She could look back and see her areas for development. “Failure is not about failing, it’s about learning”, she told the attendees. She described the nerves she felt in the run up to the match and on the day - all part of the positive learning experience for her and her body. She described the amount of energy she felt, doing something she loved and was passionate about.

“The power of your discomfort zone is immense”.

“Challenge yourself to things that scare you. Put yourself outside your comfort zone. It will give you more confidence and more ‘swagger’!”

Leanne’s advice was powerful and entertaining! It doesn’t matter what it is you’re doing, trying new things that challenge you gives you new perspectives, energy and passion. 

Both Leanne and Antonia told the audience about their new and upcoming adventure: the Arctic Circle Race 2019! Another extreme sport neither of which neither have any experience! Leanne went on to tell us that the reason she pushes herself to complete these challenges is her father, who suffers from Alzheimer's Disease. She runs for her Dad.

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Up next was the infectiously positive Kiko Matthews. Who told us her equally inspiring story. Kiko joked that her mission to row solo 3000 miles across the Atlantic seemed the best way to grab Prince Harry’s attention for a date! Unfortunate recent news for you, Kiko! Kiko was always an active, sporty character who cared greatly about the environment. It was in 2009that she became severely ill with Cushings disease. Kiko went on to make a full recovery and with this experience, claims she no longer fears death and thus has no fear of her imminent mission. She, so movingly, told the audience that 7 years on she wants to live her life to the fullest and challenge her mind and body to see what they are capable of.

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She aims to take on this transatlantic mission in a world record time - 45 days (11 days less than the current record of 56 days)! She took us on a 365 degree tour of the carbon fibre boat, and soon to be home, that she will row across the ocean. Considering she had no rowing experience before her training began - this will be quite a feat! She went on to describe why she has no fear of the what ifs - it’s about utilising resources and energy. Kiko’s powerful message made us all reflect on our own lives:

“The minute you stop worrying, stressing and are honest about who you are, you have more energy.”

“Money can get in the way. You can learn ways around things and be innovative when you don’t rely on it.”

Kiko’s mission is motivated by the desire to raise funds for King’s College Hospital; whose staff saved her life back in 2009, and again in 2017 when the Cushings made an inconvenient return. Fortunately it was less severe this time, and she was able to get back to training almost immediately after leaving hospital! Beyond this, she is running ‘100 Together’: to enable 100 women to be part of the world record team. For many of the women she has enlisted, it’s their first attempt at a regular sport. 

Do take a look at Kiko’s website to see all of the incredible events, projects, and initiatives she has planned, which focus on her main motivators: empowering women and protecting the  environment. 

Towards the event of this awe-inspiring event, an audience member articulated how refreshing it was that all three women created a differentiation between fitness and body image. All three women wholeheartedly agreed and emphasised that physical challenge, in whatever form you can personally manage, is about creating resilience and energy. This is what drives real happiness, and not aspiring towards an idealised concept of body image.

“Focus on how you feel rather than how you looks. The aim is to you use your body to achieve things. This is what gives you vitality”

 


Written by Rachel Barber

 


The Gender Agenda: Let's get women into Local Government!

Did you know that of the total 650 MPs in Westminster, only 208 are women? That is less than a third. To get to at least 50% representation we need another 118 female members of parliament.* But the situation is even worse in local government: a third may be women, but only 17% are council leaders, and 3000 more female councillors are needed to make it 50:50.* One of the Women’s Equality Party’s objectives is Equal Representation and our very own policy document states:

 

“Government at all levels, from councils through the devolved legislatures to the UK government in Whitehall and Westminster, ought to lead the way on diversity, not be pushed into action by others.”

 

So, with local council elections coming up in early 2018 we were honoured to host an event on Monday 17th October, aimed at empowering women to get involved in local government.

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Our first speaker was Robert Jamieson from Southwark Community Action Network, he talked us through the structure of Southwark Council and the current parties represented. He talked us through some of the current councillors, and what sectors they represent; such as social regeneration, new homes, financial inclusion etc. Robert then went on to visualise the Council Committee structure for us, explaining that this structure is how decision makers are held to account. Community council meetings are open to local residents and give you the opportunity to submit issues for discussion. Robert closed by listing what allowances and expenditures councillors are entitled to: an important factor for enabling people to become Councillors.

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Second on our panel was the inspiring Samantha Jury-Dada from the Labour Party (Southwark’s youngest Councillor). She began by telling us the story of how she started her journey as a Councillor: she was elected as part of a by-election and had to get thoroughly stuck in! Which she definitely did. She spoke of her frustrations in local government when she has been unable to make changes. However, she also described the work she had done that had been really rewarding; such as the knife crime strategy she created, and her work to combat youth justice. She noted that “how we look at youth violence is gendered”, and she said that she is planning to look into the impact of youth violence on Southwark’s young women. Samantha closed by saying that as a Councillor it is really important to take care of yourself. Online abuse is a reality, especially if you’re a woman, of colour, and LGBT. BUT, as she explained - when you stand, you’re part of a team. People come together and support you... and as we were about to hear from Jo Shaw: we have to stand against the sexism and stand up for what we believe in, for the community.

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Lastly, we heard from the wonderfully experienced Barrister Jo Shaw. A 2016 WEP Mayoral Candidate and former Lib Dem Parliamentary candidate, she explained that ‘being creative’ is a big part of standing for government - local and national. She shared some stellar advice for any budding Councillors: “put aside worrying what people think of you and have a clear purpose and context for why you’re putting yourself forward. Don’t be hard on yourself.” Jo reiterated Samantha’s advice of self-care. When talking of the things that were great about being a candidate she said she found canvassing really enjoyable! She was initially surprised by this, but found that most people were delighted to be asked their opinions about local issues. This is what WE found when canvassing for the 2017 General Election. Would you like to try canvassing with us next year in the local elections? If so, get in touch! Jo poignantly bought the panel to a close, referencing “the privilege of standing for your values and your principles. Leadership in any form can be lonely, but you learn masses. You meet people you’d never normally meet.”

 

Never have truer words been said about encouraging women to stand:

 

“If not me, who? We need more and more women to stand in government. The job of equality is not done.”

 

Huge thanks to Jo for this powerful call to arms, to Robert for such useful and transparent insights, and to Samantha for such inspiring and encouraging words.

 

Are you interested in standing as a Councillor in Southwark for the Women’s Equality Party? Please let us know! We will provide coaching on our campaign themes and policy areas as well as a canvassing and campaign team.

 

Are there any themes or issues you’d like to see us cover? Let us know! Email us at: womensequalitypartysouthwark@gmail.com 

You can follow us on the following social media channels:

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*Stats taken from 50:50 Parliament and the Institute for Public Policy Research

 


How Being a Bloody Difficult Woman Could be Good for Your Career

Being a bloody difficult woman, according to Claudia, is not about being deliberately disruptive; it’s about being assertive, it’s about being independent, it’s about being a self-leader and tackling problems when you see them, rather than waiting for others to do so. A difficult woman doesn’t allow herself to be controlled by men, Claudia explains. In today’s patriarchal society, that unfortunately means a difficult woman can be seen as threatening to men and some women.

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It’s important and significant that Claudia does not shy away from using the label ‘difficult’. Why? Claudia shares some heartbreaking statistics. Women are responsible for ⅔ of the world’s working hours but make only 10% of the world’s income. We produce 50% of the world’s food and own just 1% of the land. Globally we now outperform men but work well below our competence level, (Tom Schuller in ‘The Paula Principle’).

 

During the event, we tweeted this staggering fact, explaining that this is just one of the reasons the Women’s Equality Party exists. Unsurprisingly, the ‘leader of the MASCULIST movement’ responded with the oh so predictable and validating comment: “You exist because women don’t work as hard as they could/should?”

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It’s crystal clear really, just how important Claudia’s work is for the strengthening, confidence-building and empowerment of talented women.

 

Claudia goes on to share a very personal story with the audience This is the story about the exact moment she decided to change her life by becoming the ‘difficult woman’ she was accused of being. “Women in authority are often seen as threatening” and are thus sometimes victims of abuse and violence. She recognises that in order to succeed and challenge this prejudice, it’s important to be a ‘difficult’ woman, but re-frame it and see it from a positive perspective.

 

Claudia tells us how she decided she wants ‘to change the world, one woman at a time’. Her coaching and mentoring business enables women to demonstrate power and leadership, to challenge, to focus on being respected rather than being liked Her advice? “Be calm, be substantial and difficult, be principled.” She suggests we take inspiration from the Sufragettes.

 

The audience then had the privilege of gaining a step by step insight into a couple of aspects of her coaching methodology – knowing your values and identifying your why. “Knowing your values helps you to be a difficult woman for a greater purpose and stand for what you believe. Being a difficult woman with clear values increases your respect and admiration from others”. One especially lucky audience volunteer received a mini coaching session from Claudia, helping her find her ‘why’ in her path to becoming a difficult woman and focusing on what truly drives her personally and professionally.

 

Claudia skillfully combined personal experience, actionable advice and professional inspiration… with as expected, the calm, poise and authority of a truly difficult woman! Audience members took the opportunity to ask her questions and told us this was a truly confidence building session.

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WE, like Claudia, are driven by equality and the belief that women's equality and opportunity makes a better society for all. WE be believe in doing politics differently and this is why we are dedicated to hosting events and conversations such as this.

 

Are there any themes or issues you’d like to see us cover? Let us know! Email us at: womensequalitypartysouthwark@gmail.com 

 

You can follow us on the following social media channels:

Twitter 

Instagram 

Facebook 

 

Click here to find out more about Claudia's self-made business--> Winning Pathways Coaching


WE Southwark's busy September weekend

WE in Southwark just had an amazingly busy weekend with three community events back to back!

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On Saturday 19th WE were at the Pasley Park Fete, Kennington, where we enjoyed talking to the local residents about what issues matter to them most. We did get rained on a couple of times quite heavily - but it didn’t dampen our spirits for talking about all things equality, neither did it deter the local kids from buying our fabulous home made cakes!

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Later on WE held a Fringe event as part of the Peckham Festival, at Space 61 in Nunhead, where we revived five forgotten heroines of Southwark and had a great time educating our audience - and ourselves - about each character and what they have done for women's equality, as well as throwing in some ideas on what they would think of Southwark today, what are it’s biggest issues, and choosing a feminist anthem to represent them! Cake was also involved..

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Sunday 17th saw us setting up inside the Community area of Copeland Park / Bussey Building in Peckham for the Peckham Festival. Nearby the stage, it was a prime spot to hear the music and to sticker all the dancing kids nearby with WEP stickers.. We gathered a lot of information that afternoon on what are the most important issues to Peckham Residents. It also gave one of our Co-Branch Leaders a chance to pretend to be on the 'Apprentice' when 6pm came, by going outside with our donation bucket and the last of the cakes, tempting the crowds watching the music into buying them! 

 


  
        
  

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