To mark International Women’s Day (IWD) and to begin sharing our work on Women’s History Month, SYP brought together our Women’s History Month Planning Team and the Vice-Chair of SYP to reflect on the #ChooseToChallenge theme for this year’s IWD. Below you can read the reflections of six MSYPs on what this theme means to them, and why they believe it’s so important to recognize these issues on IWD and beyond.
Rosie Sumsion MSYP reflects on challenging herself, organisations, and governments.
“I’ve spent a lot of time in meetings biting my tongue or holding back from talking, because I never wanted to say the wrong thing that would stop me (or people like me) getting invited again, or that would make me seem too confrontational or difficult. I always worry everyone else knows something I don’t, and that’s why no-one is making the point I want to make. Newsflash: that’s you’re Imposter Syndrome talking. Then by the time I’d plucked up the courage the meeting would have moved on and the moment would be gone.
So, I #ChooseToChallenge myself and everyone else to keep speaking up and sharing your views when you’re invited into spaces, even when they’re different from what others are saying. With that I #ChooseToChallenge organisations and governments, to keep inviting us to be heard – even if we don’t always say what you may want us to.”
Wiktoria Orlicka MSYP shares her reflections on why it’s important to mark International Women’s Day and challenging stereotypes.
“International Womens day has always amazed me because I felt like I was being celebrated as a woman. When I was younger, I never understood the day and only saw it as a day when my family would say “Happy Women’s day” and move on.
I think it’s so important to maintain celebrating it, as we as women still get discriminated against, and always have to fight for our own equal rights. There is so many young and old women who have to fear going outside, have to deal with constant cat calling and have to deal with discrimination and being told they are weak.
I think having IWD means that we can use this day to not only celebrate us but also show how much we went through, as well as reflect.
We #ChoosetoChallenge the stereotypes and show how amazing women are by celebrating International Women’s Day and celebrating women of all kinds”
C-Jay Quigley MSYP shares reflections on her story and challenging herself and others.
“I #ChooseToChallenge those who wish to be the gatekeeper of what a woman is, as we should all help and support each other instead of ostracising people.
I also #ChooseToChallenge myself everyday, as someone who had to live 18 years of my life as Male. I worry I still have ingrained sexism to this day and I’m working to make sure that it isn’t the case”
Emily Harle MSYP shares her thoughts on being active in challenging inequality when we see it.
“I #ChooseToChallenge my own imposter syndrome when in political or working environments, and to trust in my instincts and my capabilities first and foremost. As women, it can be extremely difficult to combat the inner voices who tell you that you aren’t good enough, or you don’t belong in certain spaces. But as long as you have faith in your own abilities, you can do anything in any environment- you belong there.
I also #ChooseToChallenge discriminatory spaces and authorities, standing up for my own right to voice my views as well as defending others who are not being granted their say. Spaces are often inherently patriarchal, and in order to change this, we have to be active and challenge inequality wherever we see it, even if it isn’t affecting us personally.”
Ilse Cuthbertson MSYP reflects on challenging stereotypes.
“I #ChooseToChallenge stereotypes, as all woman are important! International woman’s day is important as it allows us to celebrate everything woman have achieved over the years. We need to remember all the amazing things that have been done within the past and the present.“
Finally, Liam Fowley MSYP and Vice-Chair of SYP, reflects on being an ally and always striving to improve.
“SYP is, and has always been, an ally of women, their voices and their right to be treated equally. But we can always do more. Whilst this month’s theme is #ChooseToChallenge, we should always challenge ourselves and others to do better. As we embark on our programme for women’s empowerment, and the challenges and learning this will bring, I am proud of this organisation and the bold steps it takes.”