One Hundred Years

One Hundred Years

This year celebrates 100 years of female suffrage in Britain. It’s hard to believe that women couldn’t vote up until 2018 and had to literally fight with their lives in order to achieve this basic human right. Truth to be told, it was a world war that wiped out much of the male population and leveraged this monumental change in British history. A century on, we’re still fighting to be treated equally and judged on our own merits whether it’s a battle in the workplace or within our inner selves.

It takes a century to shift attitudes. Having been born the middle of three girls I had no brother to defer to and therefore I was given responsibilities within my dad’s printing and signwriting business from a child. The messages I was given through the media and social culture was that boys were smarter than girls but it didn’t take me too long to realise that this wasn’t true.

Despite acing A-levels with Grade A’s I had to fight to go to university and settled on a vocational course at that. There was no parental ambition for me and as such I was the first in my family to go to university. I’ve been my own boss for most of my life, employing many people along the way. I’ve met with equal amounts of prejudice and respect and my maternal instinct often found expression within my management style.

I was shocked when recently a senior employee said how good it was to work for a woman, partly because it meant that she was no longer at risk from sexual predatory behaviour. Maybe this was also why many women like me decide to become their own bosses, because they refuse to be diminished and silenced.

I am proud to be a feminist and this finds expression in my work and daily life. I am unashamedly outspoken, true to myself and have no problems in rocking the boat if it means that it will steer us to calmer and safer seas. I believe in empowering girls to become leaders of the future and so I am a Leader-In Training with the Girl Guides, where I can help to make a difference.

Around the world organisations and institutions empower women to grow intellectually and spiritually. As such it was a great pleasure to create a design for the Royal Holloway University of London, which was one of the very first higher educational establishments for women and where many female suffragettes studied. Creating the design also gave me an insight into a key philanthropist of the time: Thomas Holloway as well as courageous and clever women who paved the way for women like me!