Steve the refugee from Germany

Dame Stephanie Shirley came to England as a refugee

I hated the Germans

As late as about 1965 I was still avoiding going on German soil, I hated the Germans.   It took a long time but then in my early 30s I began to mature.    It was precisely  for people like me to reach out and I joined the Anglo German society.

portrait of Stephanie Shirley

photograph by Robert Taylor

I joined my mother in her trip to Vienna, which I had escaped 20 years earlier.    I looked around at the gracious avenues, ancient walls and elegant squares,… and realised in an instant that it meant absolutely nothing to me…… at that moment I felt the weight of my past vanish from my shoulders

The title of my memoir (soon to be made into a film)  is about letting go.   Let IT Go    Continue reading

Professor, Lady Margaret Hodge MP. MBE.

Life is not a short sprint but a long journey

Google was fun

What makes women different.     I think the way in which we work is really different  from men.  Cooperative, inclusive.   Less about your own ego,  more about the the collaboration needed.   Women are much better at juggling a whole lot of things, at the same time, which comes comes from juggling home and work.   Continue reading

Australian Minister for Women

Anne Summers on australian stamp

Australian Post celebrated famous feminist

Australian Minister for Women

Anne Summers

One of the original Australian feminists, journalist, writer, and former Minister for the Office for Women, Anne Summers set up one of the first refuges for women fleeing domestic violence, and she has stayed true to her mission.   Making women visible, aiming for equality.   Currently speaking  at the Sydney Writers’ Festival.     Recently, she interviewed Julia Gillard both at the Sydney Opera House and the Melbourne town hall. Both venues were booked out.   In London for only two days, ionthecity interviewed her, over lunch in March.  Contemporary in age to the Lord Mayor, she has an overview of the gains and losses of women’s’ rights globally.

 I’m now more interested in principles: economic activity, education, right to equal pay,right to control your body, violence against women.    These are things that go across borders.

Interview with Anne Summers

As a child I  didn’t have any role models at a Catholic school, we were to grow up and be good Catholic mothers or nuns.   There was no idea that women would do anything except get married or be a nun.    Continue reading

The Shadow Minister for Women and Equalities Kate Green

The Shadow Minister for Women and Equalities

Kate Green

She is currently Shadow Spokesperson for Disabled People.

The key thing about human rights is protecting and respecting the people whose views you fundamentally disagree with and don’t like, in return they do the same for you. “I will defend your right to say it.”  I think that’s a good starting point.

Kate Green MP on wikipedia

formerly for women and equality

I suppose what first got me really politically angry, and aware, was being a young woman at the start of 1980; the height of Thatcher’s destruction.    Ultimately of the economic and social infrastructure.

I was shocked, but also fearful, as one of that young generation who seriously thought we might never work.  I seriously thought she might take us into a nuclear war.  All around us were young people sleeping on the streets, industries collapsing.  It was a scary time to be young!!!!

That really politicized me. All the more so because I had grown up, and been educated, in Scotland.  At the beginning of my twenties I did get work and moved to London. I was not only shocked by the poverty and sheer volume of young people on the street in London (it was the first place I had ever seen young people on the streets), but also shocked by the wealth.  Edinburgh is a rich city, but the contrast between wealth and poverty really came home to me when I moved to London.  That got me politically angry and politically aware.

It took me quite a long time before I became active in the Labour Party, probably another ten years or so.  I suppose I got to the point where I thought, “You can’t just sit around and be unhappy, you have to be engaged.” It was the beginning of the 1990’s; a purposeful time to get involved in Labour.  We were really beginning to think about a new policy agenda, think about the way we presented ourselves to the Country. It was a lot to get into. I found that very, very stimulating.

Kate Green in interview

Kate remembering a teacher

 

 

 

It was somebody else who suggested I get involved (it would never have occurred to me); a woman who subsequently became my agent and very good friend.  She had been a candidate herself in 1979, so she knew what was involved. Interestingly, she was a teacher; I think she was used to developing people, spotting their potential, bringing it on, and she saw that I could do it.  Without her I don’t think I would have even contemplated it.

I stood in 1997 and lost. Continue reading