...Is girl power coming back? (The return of unashamed female empowerment, and the lady work still to be done)
No need to reach for the platforms and thigh skimming union jack dresses just yet (although they are still a very strong look - side pony and scrunchy optional), but I can't help but catch a modern whiff of out-and-proud female solidarity as once preached by the spicey five-some.
It's uncertain times for us 20 somethings - dubbed 'generation jinxed'. A lot of my friends are still living at home (unheard of in our parent's day) and many of my fellow graduates are choosing an extra gap year over a relentless and competitive intern hustle that isn't guaranteed to result in employment (interestingly gig promoters are reporting their strongest sales ever - beers and a boogies all round to forget about the strife eh!). As a young women in media I'm happy to have been (mostly) met with a new wave of young women kissing goodbye to an outdated bitchy culture, asserting their individuality and recognizing that if we're gonna get on in a male dominated industry, it's gonna be together... and it's not gonna be quietly!
It was international women's day that first got me a'pondering to a real united lady Zeitgeist in the air. I was honoured on the day to sit alongside young business owners and magazine editors on the inspirational young women's panel at the June Sarpong's Women's Inspiration and Enterprise network (yeah, not sure how I blagged that one...). I stuck around for the day listening to journalists, actresses, business heads and designers elaborate on their experiences, made new connections and and appreciated a lot of great footwear. I was particularly struck by comments during the 'it's a funny business being a woman' panel featuring Ruby Wax, Kathy Lette, Helen Lederer, and impersonator Ronni Ancona and Wendy Wason. Hilariously entertaining they condemned the lack of older women on our telly boxes, pointing to a tradition of uncle and niece presenter relationships that on reflection actually kinda creep me out (Des & Mel, Holly & Phillip, Christine & Adrian, Tess & Bruce - I'm looking at you) as well as the complete lack of grey haired lady representatives on prime time TV. Knowing that age will inevitably creep up on myself too at some point, this concerned me and with the BBC's Mark Thompson even admitting they need more older women on TV I wonder what's actually being done about it...
A few days later I caught a very passionate Annie Lennox backstage at the EQUALS event she'd organized, raising awareness of women's inequality in society as part of the Southbank Centre's women of the world festival. Inviting pop starlets Jess Mills, Katy B and Emile Sande to join her it was a great opportunity for SBTV to get the talented lady shapes on the channel and the plan was some quick light hearted chats before we enjoyed the show. But such an important issue throwaway interviews it did not make! Instead I found myself standing between Annie and Emile channelling my inner David Dimbleby probing them as to whether they thought enforcing quotas was the answer to combat some hard to ignore stats; like how ladies make up just 14% of parliament, or just a mere 4 of the top FTSE 100 companies are headed by women. (FYI I think we should, although Cameron is being a bit woolly and doesn't sound like he'll be enforcing them any time soon - boo).
This combined with a serious lack of flexible work, and cuts destined to disproportionately effect women worse than men means we need to stick together more than ever. Although it's far from all doom and gloom... I found some fabulous examples of inspirational women who are doing the damn thing for themselves when my friend Phoebe Lovatt bought together entrepreneurs Poppy Disney founder of WIWT, Georgina and Victoria Cooper from pretaportobello, Nina Manandhar and Nendie Pinto Dushinsky from This Is The Cut, and Sharmadean Reid of Wah Nails fame to share their wisdom at her Power Suit event. Sharmadean particularly resonated with me, a down to earth multi-tasking business woman who's built up a huge original and quirky nail brand from humble beginnings as a street style blog and somehow manages to run it while being Nike's marketing manager AND raising a little one. Bloody nora.
So just because we're girls doesn't mean we should have to suffer fools of the same sex, but the feeling of female 'empowerment' doesn't hurt, and hopefully statistics will begin to reflect us on individual merits, instead of gender based ones. Not that I (obvs) don't agree with Beyonce - ahem....Who Runs The World?!