International Women's Day
When I was growing up in Manchester I was surrounded by strong women. They were everywhere: in my house, at my school and on my TV. Bet Lynch, Vera Duckworth and Hilda Ogden were not to be messed with. I dressed in baggy clothes and I honestly didn’t feel like my sex limited me in any way. 40 years down the line and two children later, I’m not sure I’d agree with my younger self.
That said, I did think we were moving in the right direction but when my daughter was 5 she made a comment that really surprised me. We were having a little chat about something and she said ‘I can’t do that Mummy, I’m just a girl’. I was so shocked. My husband and I have always told her she could be anything, do anything. We made sure we read books to her about successful women, took her to women’s sports events, and yet she still feels this way. Why?
Sadly, sexist messaging is still everywhere. Recently, high street retailers were criticised for selling t-shirts with empowering messages for boys such as ‘Never Hold Back’, ‘Adventure Awaits’ and ‘Make The Rules’. Whereas the girls’ slogan t-shirts said things like, ‘Be Good Do Good’, ‘Grateful’, and ‘Kindness’. I think we’re so used to the messaging that we don’t even see it anymore.
A few years ago one of my daughter’s reading books really made me very angry. It was about a family of mice and the story was about the head of the family finding a good husband for his daughter – this was in 2019! It’s unbelievable that my daughter was given a book containing these sentences by her school:
“Goodness me!” said Father Mouse. “It’s time you got married.”
“Pack your bag,” he said. “We’re going on a journey.”
“We must find you the best, most powerful husband in the world!”
This is why the Suffragettes and their story are still so important and it’s why I created a scarf to celebrate Manchester’s amazing history of strong, inspiring women.
We will be marching with pride at the Walk For Women event in Manchester this year to celebrate International Women’s Day, organised by Manchester City Council. It’s a fantastic family day out with a great atmosphere. My daughter loves marching down Deansgate wearing her suffragette scarf and sash.
If you’re interested in the Suffragettes I’d highly recommend a visit to The Pankhurst Museum in Manchester. It’s located in the actual house the Pankhursts lived in and it’s where the first Suffragette meeting took place. It’s only open on certain days so please check their website first by clicking on this link. I give 20% of profit from all sales of my Sylvia suffragette scarf to The Pankhurst Trust which supports the museum.
Please also check out the beautiful statue of our very own radical Mancunian, Emmeline Pankhurst, in Manchester city centre. The sculpture is called ‘Our Emmeline’ by the very talented Hazel Reeves.