A farewell from our Programme and Campaigns Manager
After four amazing years, I decided to move on from Bristol Women’s Voice and hand over the reins to someone new, with fresh ideas to challenge women’s inequality in Bristol.
Whenever there is a big change, it provides a unique opportunity to reflect on our journey and what difference we have made to inequality in the city, and to local women’s lives.
I have been fortunate to be involved in some amazing work and it is actually great to see that there are too many to list but I wanted to highlight some of my favourite moments in the last four years below:
Our Ovarian Cancer campaign trained local GPs and local women on how to spot the signs and symptoms at an early stage when outcomes are better. This work will undoubtedly save lives.
- Our 50:50 Campaign saw the number of women entering public life rise to 43% in local elections, plus the 2015 election saw 4 female MPs and a female Police and Crime Commissioner get elected. This was an amazing result, and whilst we still have a lot more work to do in ensuring that women continue to stand, get elected and importantly decide to stay in politics both for this snap general election, as well as for the future, it has been amazing to see Bristol bucking the national trend and stand out as a beacon for other cities to look to as a city that prides itself on equality and diversity at the heart of representation. The Mayoral Hustings last year was probably my favourite – it was fabulous to see so many of the candidates understand some key issues that affect women, showing the increased knowledge and understanding of some of our key policies amongst local decision makers.
- We developed Bristol’s very first wo-manifesto – our policy document that underpins the key work that needs to be done, the main focused priorities for the city and a call for action to those who have a stake in the future of our city. It was great to put into writing some of the key areas to focus on, and importantly what needs to change if we want to see progress towards living in a more equal, happier city. This is something that can be measured against, to show the difference that we are making in achieving equality.
- Our Zero Tolerance project is working with 50 key organisations and businesses across the city, to raise awareness of gender-based violence and provide them with the resources to signpost and support, and ultimately prevent and reduce violence and abuse in our city. This isn’t something that is going to change overnight, but we know that we have made in-roads towards long-term attitudinal change.
- Our city-wide International Women’s Day celebrations is attended by thousands of women from across the city, and has become the yearly opportunity to show solidarity with other women from across the world in advancing feminism and gender equality. It has been an honour to have organised it for the last four years, and I can’t actually wait to go to the next one as an attendee, rather than the organiser!
Despite these successes, there is still a huge amount of work to do and the work of Bristol Women’s Voice is as important as ever – we live in a city where gender-based violence and abuse is still endemic, women are still under-represented in both public and private boards and in politics, women are still discriminated against in the workplace for example, during maternity and the gender pay gap is still a major issue for employers here in Bristol.
But being here for the last four years has been an incredible journey for me, and I have been humbled to work with so many fabulous women, both on our Board, and with the hundreds of volunteers that have passed through the office, or at our events over the last four years. I have been honoured to work some incredible, inspirational women who have shone in the face of adversity, or given up tireless hours for something that they care passionately about. Bristol Women’s Voice would not be the charity it is today without these women and the time and love that they have given up to work towards making Bristol a city that champions equality has been extraordinary, awe-inspiring and deeply humbling. I have made some incredible friends and allies during my time here whom have shaped the person I am today, and I am leaving for new pastures with a greater understanding of what drives inequality, but also what inspires you all to stand up and fight for what you believe in.
So whilst I hand the BWV baton over to the new incumbent, I leave with the passion and drive of the inspirational women here in Bristol and it has truly been an honour to have worked here. So here’s to all of the strong women of Bristol – may we know them, may we be them and may be raise them.