Last night it was my absolute pleasure to attend a fantastic event host by an the incredible charity Plan Initially I was lured into the idea of the event with the promise of free champagne (you, know me) and a brilliant talk by bestselling author, Kathy Lette but left feeling genuinely inspired and empowered. Not only did Kathy prove that feminism can be funny ‘Don’t pick your nose, especially not from a catalogue’ amongst other brilliant lines, but that you don’t have to be aggressive and ‘right on’ to be a strong women, or indeed, a feminist.
As part of a series of talks by women for women to benefit women and girls across the world, Kathy Lette talked candidly about subjects from what life was like growing up in Australia and how it used to be the done thing as a teenager to sunscreen your boyfriends name onto your arm … ‘melanoma called bruce’ (another cracker!) to the fact that her husband used to be engaged to Nigella Lawson but left her for a ‘loud-mouthed Aussie’ (who’d have know!) to her travels to Brazil talking to girls who’d been forced to marry men three times their senior and denied basic education, health care and contraception.
Her talk was heartwarming, hilarious and backed my belief that humour can be a weapon of mass empowerment, can convey a message that aggression and confrontation cannot and remind us that actually women can be bloody hilarious.
Aside from the genius of Kathy’s quick wit, another thing which I found fabulous was a room full of intelligent, beautiful, successful women, who really cared about their position in the world as a woman. Women, collectively, who felt that the safety education and well being of girls and women in developing countries is something we should all care about. It’s all too easy to forget, when we are lucky in Western society to share increased equal rights to men (although you might want to do something about that pay gap thing and the fact that sex education in schools in England hasn’t been updated since 2000!!) to forget that in far too many places in the world basic human rights for women are still so tragically neglected.
I walk my 5 year old daughter to school every day, she arrives safely and is cared for once there, one day she will be old enough to walk to school on her own and I would expect the same. In the UK we take this for granted. In the developing world Plan talked to us about children who were schooled in a neighbouring village. Rape was not uncommon during their short journey. Young girls relieved to be in a classroom because they’d managed to get there without being sexually violated on the way. It’s not just shocking, its unacceptable and Plan work to change that. A simple thing like building a school in the village so the girls don’t have to do that journey everyday means the difference to them living in fear of rape, to being educated in a safe environment, educated in how to better themselves and their family and break the vicious circle of violation. Shouldn’t this be something we all care about?
I left humbled and inspired, feminism to me isn’t about burning bras or aggressively storming the House of Commons, it’s about change, about listening and understanding and standing up for yourself as a women and for other girls and women around the world who aren’t in a position to do so themselves. We might not all have Kathy’s brilliant sharp tongue to do it with but we do have the power to get involved and say, enough, what isn’t OK for myself, my daughter, my mother or my sister here in the UK shouldn’t be OK for any other girl or woman in the world.
Plan is making changes and so should we.
Plan works with the world’s poorest children so they can move themselves from a life of poverty to a future with opportunity. – See more at: www.plan-uk.org