To celebrate International Women’s Day on 8th March, HuffPost UK is considering the practical habits you can adopt to support women in your everyday life.
The power of women sharing their stories can, quite literally, change the conversation. After sexual assault and harassment allegations were revealed in the media against Harvey Weinstein in October 2017, women around the world responded with their own stories, resulting in the #MeToo movement.
“The power of story-telling is that it both brings an issue to life and enables others to identify with it in a way that all the statistics in the world fail to do,” says Sam Smethers, Fawcett Society’s chief executive.
“A powerful story can be the thing that literally make us realise #MeToo. The power that Carrie Gracie and #BBCWomen have had, by sharing their experiences and also coming together as a force has probably had more impact on the issue of equal pay than we have seen in recent years.”
Listening to others can inspire and motivate us to make change. Smethers says she has been affected by stories of individual suffragist and suffragette campaigners : “When we hear about what they went through and how long and hard they had to campaign it makes me realise that the task ahead of us, to drive ahead to achieve the next chapter on women’s rights and forge a path towards gender equality, is one we can achieve.”
Kim Noble is a HuffPost UK blogger with Dissociative Identity Disorder who has shared her life and experiences on the internet, TV and radio. She explains what prompted her to begin sharing her story. “At first it was a difficult decision to write down my story, as you are not only open to support, but also criticism,” she says. “However, it has helped me grow and helps me to know that I could help others feel not so alone and afraid.
“As a woman it is important that we listen to other women’s stories as more often than not, people are silenced through shame, fear and humiliation.”
Olivia Siegl has blogged for HuffPost UK about her experiences of postnatal depression. “Sharing this was a key part in me getting through some of the darkest times of my life and played a keep part in my recovery,” she says. “After my first blog, my inbox was full of emails from other women who had read my article and were getting in touch to thank me for sharing my experiences and letting me know that I was not alone.
“It is not just incredibly important but it is vital that women share their stories and that we all listen to them.”
Practical ways to share and listen to women’s stories
:: Read books written by and about women, suggests Smethers: “Start a feminist book club!”
:: See films that feature strong female characters: “E.g. LadyBird.”
:: Always make a point of reading women commentators, she urges. “There are so many out there it seems wrong to name them but my favourites are Helen Lewis, Gaby Hinsliff, Isabel Hardman, Sonia Sodha and Ayesha Hazarika.”
:: Share your own story - with your friends, online, on blogs, on forums, in support groups.