Women of the world festival at the south bank centre

Women. Who cares? We do.

Is the main marketing slogan for the ‘women of the world’ festival which is currently taking place at the south bank centre in London from March 7th till March 12th. I have to say, I didn’t think it was a great slogan, but I did like the whole concept of the festival; women from all walks of life coming together to inspire and educate  eachother.

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I guess I should start with the whole meaning behind this event; empowering women. And of course, the whole undertone of all events like this is to do with feminism.

The word feminism, and feminist  definitely still have negative connotations, as do many other words associated with women, and I really hope that this can change but in the meanwhile, I will still identify myself as a feminist even if people do roll their eyes or make accusations of how feminism  is just trying to make women become the superior gender.

So, coming into this festival I did already support the equality of the sexes, but I have to say I was educated more than I thought I would be. As a studier of geography and economics I chose the money/global orientated talks, the first one I went to was ‘womenominics’ in which the speakers: Olga Miler, Francine Lacqua, Peter Ryan and Halla Tómasdottir addressed issues of getting women back into work, creating flexibility in the corporate industry for women and the microfinace scheme set up by Peter Ryan in the Sub Saharan area of Africa.

All of which were very interesting; I learned a lot about how women in the developed world struggle to get back into work and learned of the organisation ‘she’s back’ which helps get women who have taken career breaks back into work which I thought was amazing as these women are indeed invaluable to their work places, getting them back is hugely important and beneficial.

I also learnt how hard it can be to deal with the barriers of corporate language in the business world and fight to be taken seriously when investing with banks. Whenever I think of female struggles, I think of those in less economically developed countries struggling and so it was refreshing yet also saddening to become enlightened at how we are still fighting for equal opportunity and respect for women in such developed countries.

I was very inspired by Peter Ryan’s microfinace scheme which was set up in Malawi to give loans to women to start up their own small businesses, I was particularly interested in a case study of an African lady who created a business which ended up supporting 157 other families; truly showing how when given the chance, women are strong enough and more than clever enough to make change through finance and business.

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There were also many workshops going on like this one where there was an opportunity to write how you were going to help make the world better for women.

The other talk I went to was focused on the seemingly never ending era of austerity (I only learnt what this meant literally 2 days ago.) I mainly went to this one because it relates to what I am doing in geography at the moment, nevertheless it proved to be very informative as the two council leaders for Lambeth and Bradford spoke on the issues that the governments budget cuts to local councils are really doing; 56% of local council funds have been cut since 2010 resulting in staffing cuts and limiting the community services available ultimately resulting in a negative multipler effect for both of these communities, and to my surprise, actually, this has had drastic implications on the women of those areas.

Domestic abuse in Bradord has actually increased by 48% since 2008 perhaps due to tensions caused by limited income in households. Also, studies show that when times get tough, women are the ones who sacrifice and eat less resulting in lower levels of health in fact, life expectancy for women has fallen in Bradord aswell.

Clearly, although the UK is one of the strongest economies in the world, we still have a huge amount of work to do, deprivation is such a huge issue especially up north where there really aren’t as many opportunities as in the south which is evident through this information on Bradford and so once again I was educated on the struggles facing women in developed regions.

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Obviously I had to make this post a little -R authentic with a classic south bank snap.

This isn’t a typical post for me; usually my posts are much less to do with the hardcore real world,it’s issues and  facts,but I thought I would write it nevertheless particularly due to my tutorial teacher who encouraged me to, so I thank her because I really was stuck on what to write about next.

Overall, I did learn valuable information and I enjoyed visiting the south bank centre however, I don’t think I would be in a huge rush to attend another event like this although I’m sure so many people would really love it so I would recommend for the experience.

 

-R

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