Friday, November 17, 2006

interviews with inspiring women.....

on the Guardian website -

I posted about the Fawcett society a couple of weeks ago and now the Guardian have put sound clips on their site of interviews with the four women who are going to be speaking at the Fawcett society event on the 22nd November.

There is also a very interesting article in the same paper with 5 women - all writers - Jenni Murray (who will be chairing the Fawcett event), Ariel Levy, Lionel Shriver, Maggie O'Farrell and Michele Hanson, writing about the women who have inspired them.

check up on your boyfriend.....

if you're worried he might be a paedophile..........

the British Government is considering allowing single mothers to ask for information about the criminal record of new boyfriends to find out whether he is a sex offender if they are worried.

The Guardian make it clear that "Mothers would have to have grounds for suspicion and would face tough penalties if they abused the information, including by making it public. Establishing a relationship with a single mother is a common strategy used by predatory paedophiles to gain access to children. Such men represent about a fifth of child sex offenders; the rest are relatives or otherwise known to the victim."

This seems to me like such a terrible indictment of the state of our community - we cannot trust men with our children. Why is this? Why are men attracted to children as sexual playthings? Is the only way to deal with this issue to give responsiblity to women check up on men we have doubts about? There must be another way of reducing the chances of child sex abuse.

Along with violence against women, abuse of children is a symptom of the patriarchy - men need to feel powerful and to express their feelings as agression or sex. If they need to feel close to a person sexually some of them seem to need that person to be non-threatening - e.g. a child. 80% of child sex offenders are relatives or otherwise known to the child.

What leads to men needing to express themselves like this? The expectations on men to be "masculine" seem to damage men as much and in different ways to the expectations on women to be "feminine". And the impact of the damage is felt by all of us......we have got to the point where we need laws so that people feel they can keep their children safe.
We have to address the issue by educating men about their responsibilities towards the rest of society and supporting them to have non-sexual close relationships with children.

Monday, November 13, 2006

workplaces need to change.....

now that's a surprise! (not)

According to a Guardian article today Jill Treanor says "Senior executives from 150 leading companies will be asked to help draw up a new set of industry standards to promote more women and to create working environments which break away from the traditional male-dominated, aggressive workplaces"

The number of women in the boardrooms of Britain's biggest companies has fallen sharply. While 50% of the graduate recruits are female, the proportion reaching senior levels falls to 30% and to just 15% in executive roles. There are only 12 female executive directors at FTSE-100 companies last year - down from 20 last year. The 12 women work for 10 companies. Only three FTSE 100 firms have women chief executives. 90 women serve as non-executives, but more than a quarter of FTSE 100 firms have no female director.

Yup - there's a lot of work to do!

Professor Lynda Gratton, leading the research says "It ís not simply that companies [are choosing] not to promote women but that women decide to leave". One of the first things the centre will do is to bring together all relevant research on its website, Then it has plans for studies into topics such as what draws women to entrepreneurialism and the reason women seem to be good at innovation.

In an interview in the Guardian last week Gratton said "We need to show organisations, through research, what benefits women can bring, what they can do.....

Research published this Wednesday also found that women were both task- and relationship-oriented, meaning, in lay terms, that they get things done as well as get on with people. Gratton describes this as a "huge finding". I think it's totally patronising - women have to be doers and networkers to survive with a family to support, it's not news!

This week's research suggests that more than 30% of any workforce needs to be female to change an organisation. Women are surrounded by fewer and fewer women as they move up the greasy pole. Gratton also points out "Being a minority is an unpleasant place to be. The surprise I sometimes think is not that there are so few senior women but - given how hard it is and how extraordinarily good they have to be - how many." This point that echoes the earlier posts I have written about how women, despite having to spend hours on "beauty-work" can still achieve as much, if not more than our male counterparts, if we choose to.......

Saturday, November 04, 2006

inspiring women update....

according the entertaining quiz on Fawcett

I am

Mary Wollstonecraft (1759 – 1797)

She was a British philosopher, often hailed as the first feminist. She wrote several novels, essays, and children's books, but is best known for A Vindication of the Rights of Woman (1792) in which she argued that women were degraded through the lack of education imposed on them by the restrictions of femininity. In line with the ideals of the Enlightenment, she fought for a society based on reason and the new concept of human rights.
As well as writing, Mary Wollstonecraft worked as a teacher, founded a school and travelled all over Europe, staying in France during the revolution. After a stormy relationship with Gilbert Imlay, with whom she had her first daughter Fanny, Wollstonecraft married the philosopher William Godwin. They had a daughter together: Mary Shelley, the author of Frankenstein. Mary Wollstonecraft died of puerperal fever shortly after the birth, but left a legacy of feminism that has changed the world.

I wish!!!!!

Seriously though - the quiz promotes the work that Fawcett is doing to highlight inspiring women. Inspiring Women celebrates women and their contribution to politics, the arts, entertainment, sports, science, and public life.

Jenni Murray from BBC Radio 4 Woman's Hour will be in conversation with this year's Inspiring Women in London on 22nd November. The women are: comic actress and writer Jocelyn Jee Esien, double Paralympic champion Tanni Grey - Thompson, Shadow Leader of the House of Commons Theresa May MP, and Liberty Director Shami Chakrabarti.

In August Lucy Clouting of the Guardian profiled inspiring women nominated by readers. They were inundated with responses and chose 15 to profile. "Whether through art, charity, or political protest, all are working ardently to make the world that much better for all of us."
The list includes Katherine Zappone and Ann Louise Gilligan a lesbian couple fighting for their marriage to be recognised in Ireland, and Finn Mackay Founder of the London Feminist Network and domestic violence prevention officer who has rejuvenated women-only Reclaim the Night marches.

Last year the web-based women's network that I set up with some friends locally - Froom , took this topic as our theme and published a few articles here. I'd like to see more contributions but everyone seems too busy. Shame really as reading things like this help me feel the power of women and encourage me to be myself and not succumb to the limitations that I feel our patriarchal society place on me.

women at the top? ...

in your dreams!

The R£wards survey from the Institute of Directors (IoD) shows that female executives are still getting paid less than their male colleagues - suprise, suprise - and also work longer hours......

“Although there has been an overall decrease from 24% last year, to 19% this year, this is hardly grounds for celebration. Even those who break through the glass ceiling and reach board level will find there is another roof over their heads. The pay gap has often been justified on the basis that women work shorter hours. Our survey refutes that suggestion. Not only are women directors being paid less, they are also working longer hours.”

Female directors now earns an average of £60, 000 compared with the average male director’s basic pay of £74, 028 and the biggest gaps are in the private services and voluntary sectors where female pay was 25% below that of their male counterparts.

To make matters worse, the research shows that female managing directors in medium and large companies are actually working longer hours than their male counterparts – 51.25 hours per week, (compared with 50 hours for men in small to medium sized companies) and 57 hours a week compared to 55 in larger companies.

Meg Munn MP made a speech in October saying -
"In parliament there have only ever been 291 women MPs. There are more than 500 men there today. That’s nearly 90 years after the time when women could first stand for parliament. Today still less than 1 in 5 MPs are women. Less than 30 per cent of local councillors are women. In business less than 11 per cent of directors of the FTSE companies are women. Only 1 per cent of those in construction trades are women and in 2004 just 22 young women took up plumbing apprenticeships in England compared to more than 3000 young men."

She goes on to say "For public appointments it’s a bit better - 35 per cent are held by women but only just over 6 per cent by ethnic minority women. " However, I read a special supplement in Health Service Journal in September, that I meant to post about a while ago. It listed "the 50 people with the greatest influential on today's NHS policy and practice." Of the 50 - only 9 are women. I found this truly shocking. That is considerably less than the 35 percent (just over one third) that Munn suggests. The list had Patricia Hewitt at number 2 - Secretary of State for Health. Dame Carol Black who is at number 8 - National Director of Health and Work and Gill Morgan at number 15 Chief Executive of the NHS confederation. The other 6 women all come in the bottom half of the list.

The Women and Work Commission was set up to examine the persistent problem of the pay and opportunities gap. Their final report, which came out earlier this year, contained a number of recommendations about the barriers to informed choice at school, combining work and family life, lifelong learning and training, and improving workplace practice. It found that the pay gap between part-time women workers and full-time male workers is 41%.

Meg Munn was promoting the new Commission for Equality and Human Rights. (CEHR) The new Commission for Equality and Human Rights will inherit the powers of the three existing Commissions who focus on equality relating to gender and race and rights for disabled people and will deliver the new Equality Act (2006). It will open it's doors in October 2007. In the meantime the Equal Opportunities Commission continues.

There is certainly a long way to go and the CEHR needs to have a lot of power and support to have any effect on what is clearly an entrenched problem. The new commission says "we want to talk to as many groups, organisations and companies as possible to establish the relationships and engagement that will be essential for the Commission's success. Please contact us if you have any questions on the CEHR during this transition phase, or if you are holding an event and would like a member of the transition team to speak; or you are would like the latest update on the CEHR, please use the form below to get in touch."

Will it challenge the patriarchy I wonder? What do you think?

Stop the Traffik....

Stop the Traffik is a global organisation aiming to prevent human trafficking and the ensuring slavery of all kinds - particularly of women and children who form the greater part of the 'cargo'. If you have time please at least sign the declaration.

1. Get an organisation that you are a part of to become a STOP THE TRAFFIK MEMBER

2. Help with a donation towards the costs of the campaign. And if you are a UK tax payer, your donation can be gift aided as well.

3. BUY FREEDOM KEYS from the STOP THE TRAFFIK website and sell them within your organisation and your community, to your neighbours and friends so the symbol of STOP THE TRAFFIK is carried everywhere.

4. VISIT THE GLOBAL PROJECTS PAGE on the web site and see over the coming months what organisations are doing around the world to STOP THE TRAFFIK.
You could adopt and raise funds for one project.

5. GO TO THE 'HOW TO GET INVOLVED' SECTION on the website and search through the ever growing list of ideas of other ways to get involved in STOP THE TRAFFIK.

6. TAKE TIME TO VISIT THE WEBSITE REGULARLY and see what else is going on and let us know what you are doing onto the feedback page.


articles wanted ....

for new feminist e-magazine - Feminist Forum, which will be launched for the 16th anniversary of 16 days of activism, on December 10th 2006.

The theme of the first FF is future of feminism - a lessons learned and now to proceed further.

Mirjana Tejic is a new member of the uk feminist action group on yahoo and she is inviting women to send short articles (2000 - 2500 words) by the 25th November.

Mirjana is a feminist legal researcher from Serbia, Belgrade and is legal representative of Center for prevention of domestic violence. E-mail her on tejic AT eunet DOT yu if you are interested.