International Women’s Day – a cynnic’s heroines!


I was a bit cynnical earlier today, in this day and age that we needed to celebrate a day for women, but then, hand on heart, I wasn’t entirely sure I knew what it was or what it was meant to be.

So I just googled it.

First off, I’m amazed to read that it’s been celebrated since the early 1900’s. I had it down as evolving in the 1980’s when frankly I’d rather have walked in the opposite direction to the many women harping on about it at Uni when I was a student. I was never one for joining all these cliche (as I saw them) groups from day one – simply because I was suddenly a student. The one and only women’s meeting I went to whilst there, to vote on the new Women’s Officer, was when my then boyfriend stood for the role. Uproar was an understatement – but why not, I figured at that time.  All these women were banging on about equal rights and me being Mrs Jaded thought well why should a man not stand? Suffice to say he didn’t get in. (Mind you at the same meeting the fellow student from my course who stood up to argue that Christ had been gay because he hung out with a load of blokes faired only slightly better. More jadedness.)

So I’m really rather ashamed that I have poo pooed this occasion so frequently as a much older more established tradition, and an International one at that, despite the clue being in the title!

I hold my hand up and say the first woman on the news this morning who shouted the word ‘Sister’ into a mic made me change channel. It evokes a state of affairs in me not of equality but of crass role reversal of the worst sort. I personally have never felt inferior to a man, I’ve never felt discriminated against when at work, play or wherever, I’m not threatened by girlie mags or sexist jokes, I just don’t get involved. And I certainly don’t think my gender has ever done me a disservice but then I do live in a far more democratic place than millions of other women around the world who can’t make the same claim, and that’s where my shame kicks in. I’ve only ever viewed this day from the comfort of my nice UK-based life where my education has afforded me a voice and my confidence, pig-headedness and opinionated state of mind have never stopped me trying anything. I’m mindful of having sounded very arrogant but I don’t mean to be, I merely want to highlight that I have nothing to complain about, until I ponder – so why is this still not the case for all women? To which I have no answer.

I can’t speak for any other woman out there but to join in the celebrations I must fete some dear achievers in my own group of friends because if anyone needs inspiration out there then these women are true favourites of mine.

Jacqui Jones is nothing short of inspirational as a business woman, mentor and friend. Design Conscious is a phenomenal testament to her knowledge, taste, shrewdness and intellect – well done, I always value your opinion and only wish I could follow your lead more closely!

Kath Walker‘s illustrations have always made me smile, even though her talent makes me sick. She can make me laugh at the drop of a hat and to have had the career so far, like Jacqui, bourne out of her own grit and determination is fantastic. I’ve now known her more than 30 years and her sickening doodles just go from strength to strength – did it all start with dot-to-dot? LOL

Sharon Hockenhull aka The Plantswoman, will be the UK’s next TV celebrity gardener because she’s got it all going on. A first time entrant to the RHS as Tatton last year, she won a silver gilt and in the ensuing 9 months has seen her career flourish from local based work to national, gobsmacking contracts. I can’t wait to see this year’s entry and know her intelligence will take her all the way. Do I get to dress up in an apple costume again this year, Shaz?

Alex O’Toole was my MD in my last job and is now a fab friend who starts this new year as an entrepreneur in her own right. I have no doubts whatsoever that she will steal the market, in the same way others here do in their field for she too knows her onions. I’ve never worked with anyone so young who could consume information at the pace she does, understand it and spew it back out in its simplest form (for those dimboids among us who, by comparison, can’t tell their *rse from their elbow!). I look forward to her first fiction novel and her first non-fiction strategic business tome, doubtless published at the same time.

Bridget Batty of Lime Tree PR has been a very recent but great friend. We’ve run a couple of series of conferences together and would probably both agree that without the other we’d have nobody to sound off to! I would say hire her for events but I’d be doing myself out of the gig…..but should you, she’s cool!

Angela Smith runs the Write Angle and when I worked under Alex in my last job, Angela was then just starting out with her one employee in a nearby office. Six or seven years later and her small business is now an award winning PR agency with countless employees – ALL FEMALE!!! She gave me one of my first freelancing jobs for which I’ll always be grateful as it made me stick at it. All the women there are intelligent, straightforward, strong people with a great sense of humour and professionalism.

I’ve met other wonderful women very recently either through my new husband or through twitter (same thing sometimes!!) and they must be mentioned Hannah Coleman, Louise Bolotin, Cally Robson, Mel McDonald, Jane Cooper, Jen O’Grady and Cathy Parker. Cathy has to be the youngest female professor in Higher Education though I have no proof – a seriously sharp cookie!

Last but not least my nearest and dearest Gillie, Jude and Mum – and for you guys I have no words.

Hope you all continue to flourish and succeed with your wildest dreams, providing inspiration to other women out there who are wondering if they could ever be like you!


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One Response to “International Women’s Day – a cynnic’s heroines!”

  1. Jennifer O'Grady Says:

    A lovely post from another wonderful woman. Thank you for thinking of me and I look forwards to seeing you both at the wedding!

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