I love being a woman and I am of course a feminist.
Most of my work with the Too Fat to Run movement is about empowering women, encouraging them to prioritise their own health and happiness, and campaigning for equality for women in sport and health.
As a speaker I often get to speak to audiences of women about inequality and some of things we do ourselves to hold us back from achieving our full potential.
Yesterday was one of those days.
I was the keynote speaker at the launch of the Women’s Empowerment Month in the London Borough of Barking and Dagenham, an East London borough just next door to the one I grew up in.
As I prepared my 30 minute talk for this event I found myself reminiscing about time I had spent in the borough myself. As a child each year I used to dance at the Barking Assembly Hall (which is no longer), and the time I cycled from Upton Park to Barking aged 10 and ended up on the dual carriageway and had to be taken home by the traffic police…much to the embarrassment of my mum.
The event which of course coincided with International Womens’ Day was a fabulous celebration of women, with speeches from various high profile women from the borough, including Liza Vallence, who not only is the CEO of the boroughs leading arts organisation Studio 3 Arts, but she is also one of my clients at Too Fat to Run, as she prepares to run her first ever marathon next month.
There was a panel of outstanding women, with architects, councillors, entrepreneurs, business leaders, local historians…it felt incredible to be in a room full of such vibrant women (and there were a few blokes too, including the leader of the council)
I gave my talk which was all about setting and achieving Big Fat Stupid Goals and I told the audience all about how I overcome a childhood where not much was expected of me, and how I have learned over time to face my fears and to dream ridiculously big when it comes to my goals in life.
There was laughter, there were nods of agreement, and there was interaction in all the bits there was supposed to be…so in many ways it was a success.
I came off the stage though and sat in my seat thinking I could have done better and wondering if the event host was pleased with what I had done, if she believed I was worth the fee I charged.
And then I snapped out of it and had a whole heap of fun shaking hands, hugging and having selfies with the audience who all told me they loved my speech.
Why do we do it ladies?
- Does my bum look big in this?
- Is that really OK or are you just saying it?
- Am I ready?
- Will people notice I made a mistake?
- Will people realise I’m just blagging this (and of course we never are)
- Will I be identified as the fraud that I am.
Imposter Syndrome at it’s greatest. Even us speakers who talk on these issues experience them too. And that’s a good thing.
In my talk I spoke about not asking for permission before going out to do the things you want to in life, and not waiting until you are 100% ready.
I even admitted “I am not the best speaker in the world. I sometimes go red. I sometimes say um, I sometimes even forget what I was going to say next…but that is OK”
The theme for International Women’s Day this year is #BeBoldforChange and that is what we must be
Being bold involves being brave, putting yourself up for scrutiny and potentially ridicule, it means standing up alongside the so called experts and fighting for your voice to be heard too…even if you don’t have letters after your name or your voice isn’t as posh.
Yesterday was of course the spring budget announcement in the UK too, and as I took a break from my work yesterday and sat on the sofa watching it live (something I have never really done before), a few things struck me…
- Just what an impact the National Insurance increase will have on working women, many of whom have no choice but to be self employed to fit in with family commitments…this will be huge for me
- How annoying it is watching men taking lumps out of each other on the political stage, disguised as comedy or humour…I wasn’t impressed
- There was the announcement of the fund which will support projects to mark the passing of the 1918 Representation of the People Act and “remind us all just how important it was.” Something I didn’t realise about this at first though was that the Act of 1918 gave only some women the vote for the first time…working class and unmarried women for example wouldn’t have the same right for a further 10 years.
Today I am feeling a bit reflective about it all.
Last night at 9.30pm as I picked up my sleepy 4 year old daughter from the childminder she asked,
Where was you mummy?
To which I replied
I was speaking at an event sweetie, I was working.
And as I tucked her up in to bed a few minutes later she announced with a bit of a bee in her bonnet
Mummy, did you know it is women’s day today
To which I replied,
Yes Rose it is, but did you know it’s actually women’s day everyday…because women and girls are brilliant EVERY. SINGLE. DAY!!!
And with that she happily went off into the land of nod and I slumped on my sofa switched on the news and started to sort through the string of emails I’d received in the last few hours about things coming up in the next few weeks.
I am very very proud to be a woman, I am proud to be a working single mother doing the best I can with what I have to hand, and I am really proud to be an East Ender from a working class family full of strong, resourceful women.
(Thats my nan Sylvia on the far left holding one of my uncles, with some of her relatives at some point in the 1930s somewhere in the East End)
Remember folks #BeBoldforChange…today, tomorrow and every day until International Women’s Day 2018…then hold tight for further instructions
If you would like to discuss booking me as a speaker for a future event you are planning, please drop me a line to email@example.com or give us a call on my mobile 07961 374 772 so we can see if I am a good fit….if I am not I can normally recommend another woman who would be.