Enough Talking

3 04 2012

I usually write my column by raising a couple of points that have piqued my interest over the last wee while and then musing out load, and on-line, then possibly, but not necessarily, reaching a conclusion.

Not this time. I’ll nail my colours to the mast straight away – we have to start doing something about the issues that, as women, we keep talking about. And furthermore, when we do talk, we have to include men in the conversation rather than just chatting amongst ourselves.

As a starting point I want to consider the continuing relevance of International Women’s Day (IWD). There are hundreds of events around the country based around the day. Every Women’s group seems to think that they have to have a flagship event on the day. My concern is this. Are these groups using the day to raise the profile of their own group under the guise of raising the profile of the issues that effect women around the world. I’ll give you an example. I attended the Scottish Women’s Convention Conference held to mark IWD, in the Scottish Parliament Building, Holyrood. It was a splendid venue filled with 150 women drawn from all walks of life. A splendid opportunity to engage with women, to share views and opinions. It was an opportunity missed. We heard very briefly from two interesting young women but for the most part were talked at by career politicians, reading from their prepared scripts and conveying their party line.

More concerning still, there was no “what happens next?” piece. We all just walked away having been fed, watered and talked at for 5 hours. And the audience was all women. The men in the room were porters and technicians and clearly not engaged by any of the speeches, but then again neither was I.

At the first Ambition Debate Karen Darby launched an e-petition which, if 100,000 signatures are garnered, will force a commons debate to get more women into the boardroom. Most of the over 100 women in the room indicated that they were going to go away and sign. Only 5 did.

So why the reticence to actually DO something? All these women were happy to to turn up to the debate, to see and be seen, to have lunch, circulate, listen to the views of the panellists and then wander back out onto the street and do absolutely nothing.

100 years ago suffragettes chained themselves to railings and threw themselves under galloping horses in order to secure the vote for women. Is it that we now think that they did all that needed to be done? That there is nothing left to fight for? Surely not. We can all recite lists of inequalities that remain, so why are we all so ready to turn out to listen to people talk about issues that need to be addressed but then don’t get involved beyond taking part in the conversation?

Women turn up in their hundreds to attend “self-help” workshops of all flavours, eat yourself healthy, make a million dollars, attract the perfect partner yet domestic violence charities struggle to raise funds and volunteers.

I regularly experience similar frustration, as many women contact me to say what a great job we’re doing at the3rdimagazine and asking how they might get involved – then do nothing. So, rather than ranting about my frustrations with women’s inactivity, passivity and willingness to let others take action on their behalf, I’ll give yo the opportunity to prove me wrong.

What do you actually DO to help change the world in which we live and to support women who are less advantaged? If there was one issue that you would be prepared to ACT upon, what would it be?

Usually when I finish a column I expect to have to prove I’m right in what I say. This time I hope that I am wrong.



One response

8 05 2012
Fiona Gifford

Like Karen, I am frustrated by the lack of action amongst my peers. “For things to change, first I must change.” – just talking about it is not moving us forward. What if every one of us did one significant thing this year to support another talented woman? ; be a mentor, give access to your network, advise and challenge, champion or simply talk about their achievements and talents to those who matter.

Just one thing.

I am walking the talk – my colleague Rachel and I have developed a toolkit called “My Board if Directors”. It’s a free resource aimed at talented, ambitious people who want to build an effective “Board” or network of support to achieve their dreams. We have funded the development and given our time to the design and pilot. My company is sponsoring the website. It will launch in June 2012.

What’s your “one thing”? If you can’t think of one, perhaps you could sponsor the roll-out of “My Board of Directors” in your organisation? Let me know at fiona@theperformancecollective.co,uk.

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