WOW! A weekend of Women Of the World on the Southbank.


A weekend of Women Of the World on the Southbank.

“Quotas are essential. Quotas are a way of making sure that merit is taken into account.  We won’t get anywhere without them.  It’s been 40 years and we’re going backwards.  It’s important to know your history”

In particular the laws we put through about affirmative action, have been watered down and have become marginalized.”

Some comments from the great Australian feminist, Anne Summers, founder of Women’s Lib. in Australia 1969, and first Refuge, and who also ran the Office for Status of Women reporting directly to the PM.

A great start to the WOW ( Women of the World) weekend.  Maxine Peak was in amazing form despite having come straight from supporting the barristers’ strike in London, over the cuts to legal aid.

“I didn’t know I was making a statement”  Professor Aderin Pocock, bringing her  daughter on stage with her, much to the panel’s delight.

Four years on, from Judy Kelly asking how many women considered themselves to be feminist, suddenly we find ourselves in an overwhelming tide of the fourth wave of feminism

Kira Cochrane of the Guardian gave a brief history and recent developments, from on line signing campaigns, and Laura Bates Everyday Sexism, to page 3, and lads’ mags.

Baroness Shirley Williams gave an historical perspective with some useful insights. She mentioned the early feminists of  the French  revolution demanding their rights  which disappeared without trace.

Although girls regularly outperform boys in reading, one of the concerns raised several times during the day, was a habit of self deprecation, self doubt, lack of assertiveness, modesty, rather than grasping the achievement

A different perspective Baroness Williams felt was the importance of the influence of father bringing up daughters to believe they were a capable of anything.  She instance Michel Bachelet, but closer to home  Baroness Betty Boothroyd and Maggie Aderin Pocock , who is still carrying out her father;’s legacy.   Baroness Wiliams also felt that power is perceived as a man shaped thing, an aggressive, forceful thing, rather than an influence, and that women needed to reshape and rename it.

Certainly plenty of ideas to discuss in this WOW weekend.

Above all there seemed to be a consensus of the importance of role models, in all spheres, visible role models, known about and visible on BBC and TV shows.

Professor Aderin Pock considered that technology had a major freeing effect on women’s lives from refrigeration, to contraception piped water, later social media.This year, she has spoken to over 120,000 school children to inspire them to aspire to science career, since she sees the importance of STEM students being a key g factor

For Sarah Brown it was about finding her voice,. the first time she spoke publicly, she passed out cold when she finished. But she wants us to find that moment, once she knew what she wanted to do, and she had to speak out.

The Lord Mayor is dedicated to diversity, and not just women. She was information gathering on how best to infiltrate Diversity in all its forms through business and the city, at all levels. She’s got 36 firms on board. From the top down but also driven from the top and greater awareness through organizations.

So it was satisfying to find Cheryl Bart, executive  at ABC able to show that from board level down women have a respectable numbers from board level down increasing more that 50% in some cases. And this in an 87 year old fairly traditional institution.

Perhaps the BBC could take note, or find out how it was done?

If the WOW organizers were looking for a range and exchange of views and ideas, the general buzz around the Southbank, promises great things.

Which leads us to the next idea.  Instead of axing the youth channel, BBC 3, why not turn it over to the women? Make it a Female First channel, to would cater for a different group, not minority, and would also cover both youth and age.

Not a “Women- Only-Channel”, just that the focus of each programme would be women writers, protagonists, or directors. To say nothing of the subject matter, which would also be able to have a global focus. Like the all female panel on Linda Yeuh at Davos on the world service.




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