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A Note from An Inspiring Woman on International Women’s Day

By Alice Beveridge

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My daughter is 5 years old. She is currently obsessed with Mary Poppins. Having loved this film as a child myself, watching her watch it has been fascinating. She loves the magic of Mary Poppins, she loves when they get stuck on the ceiling from laughing too much; she loves the runaway carousel horse, but most of all she loves the songs. Last weekend she enlisted her brother and our neighbour’s children to follow her around the house singing “Sister Suffragette” and shouting “Votes for Women” at the top of her voice.

Then several hours later, out of nowhere she asks “Mum… what are votes for women?”

I was suddenly transported back to my own childhood.  I clearly remember my own mother explaining to me what exactly Mrs Winifred Banks was marching for. Votes for Women. She showed me old cartoon strips where suffragettes were taunted showing empty kitchens and sad children. They were portrayed as man haters, not asking for equality, but superiority. My mum also described what it had meant be a suffragette, the sacrifices they made but most importantly the impact their movement had. She told me about my grandmother being an active member of the Women Land Army while my grandfather fought overseas during the war. She detailed what she, herself, could now do that women had not been allowed to before. How she had battled for a place on a chemistry course at St. Andrews University. How she had demanded to be allowed to do her PHD despite the fact that “ she was a woman who would probably just go off and have babies”. How she had juggled a successful academic career in a male dominated subject. How she and my father shared the load every step of the way. How she had raised two happy, strong, independent children despite not being in the kitchen all day….

We are now in 2019, and it is International Women’s Day. We have the right to vote and have done for 91 years. But our work is not yet done. Those standing up for women’s rights and equal representation are often tarnished with the brush of bra burning feminists. But women are not seeking superiority as many will joke or jibe. We are seeking equality. We are seeking balance. We seek to challenge stereotypes. We seek gender balanced boardroom. We seek an equal voice. We seek gender balanced wealth. We seek gender balanced media coverage. We seek #balanceforbetter.

This is not a women’s issue.

This is a human issue.

I hope that as I explain the journey of equality to my daughter, who at 5 years old already lives by the mantra of “I’m a strong independent women, I’ll do it myself” (even if some times I wish she would just let me put her shoes on for her so we could get out of the house on time) that she realises the impact people can have when they stand up for that they believe in. I hope she knows that she comes from a long line of inspirational women, but recognises she also comes from a long line of inspirational men.

The pursuit of balance is achievable. I hope it’s achieved in my mother’s life time. But for the sake of my children, I intend to make damn sure it is achieved in mine.

“Our daughters’ daughters will adore us,

and they’ll sing in grateful chorus,

Well Done! Sister suffragettes”

– Mrs Banks

Alice Beveridge is our resident Positive Psychologist. In 2018, Alice was awarded by the Association of Business Women Scotland as a ‘Woman of Inspiration’ and has been recognised in their ‘Women of Inspiration Honours List’ for 2018. Mother of 2 children (and several work colleagues), Alice drives TOK Wellbeing, which offers health and wellbeing surveys to pupils, parents and staff in Secondary schools, as well as a full time Speaker and Director at Tree of Knowledge. She’s an advocate for thinking and living outside of the box that society has built for us and always knows what to say and what to do in every situation.

 

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