Empowered Women, Empower Women
We ask ourselves, ‘Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?’ Actually who are you not to be? – Marianne Williamson
Happy International Women’s Day! A day in past years I perhaps haven’t taken enough notice of. It’s a day to celebrate the social, economic and political achievements of women and this year I fully intend to do that. Today, undeniably, is a really important day to embrace. The multitude of messages, conversations, events and the sense of togetherness it inspires are so positive and I guess I wanted to post something a bit positive of my own. After all what better day is there than today to recognise things that empower me, and celebrate the women who have over the years and more recently empowered me?
Feminism and empowerment…
Feminism is something that empowers me and encourages me to empower others. For a while I’ve known quite clearly that I’m a feminist and am more than happy to call myself one. I enjoy discussing and debating the politics surrounding this and broadening my understanding of others perspectives. Its also great because so often I find these conversations rewarding and it’s great to share and support each other particularly as women. Granted there are also stereotypes, misconceptions or misuses of what feminism is and thus these conversations aren’t always straight forward but quite simply for me feminism is about several key things. To begin with its about, promoting equality and fair treatment for women both in this country regarding issues like pay gaps, sexual harassment and equal opportunities and also promoting this for women in other countries who don’t even have the same level of rights as we do here. Moreover, its also about supporting women to reach their full potential and empowering and accepting women in how they choose to live their lives, in pursuing their interests and passions and expressing themselves in the way they feel happy, comfortable and confident. Essentially, this can all relate to this brilliant quote – ‘Empowered Women Empower Women’.
So with that phrase in mind, these are women who to some extent have empowered, inspired, supported and motivated me to either be a better version of myself, further explore my passions or to express my views and have confidence in these and my own abilities.
Sarah Sharp & Malaika Cunningham
These two women have had a fairly recent influence on me and I’ve been lucky to work with both of them during this gap year. Sarah is the producer and programmer at Theatre Deli where I’m on placement and Max the artistic director of The Bare Project. Both of them have taught me things about the theatre industry, making theatre and about what theatre means to them and thus have helped me in gaining confidence in my own knowledge of theatre, introduced me to new aspects of the theatre ‘world’ and in turn increased my love of theatre. They are also two incredibly self-motivated, hardworking women and have set a great example to me to work hard, pursue my interests and continue exploring and learning and all whilst proving themselves to be intelligent, caring and fun to be around.
Hannah works at SYHA and for Age Better Sheffield and I was lucky to work with her for a couple of weeks last August whilst doing a project where we went round older people’s homes in Sheffield gathering stories. Hannah is an especially lovely person, she’s kind-hearted, friendly and warm and a source of happiness to be around and through her work and other aspects of her life constantly embodies the values of Age Better by going out of her way to reach out to others, promote reducing isolation and encouraging communities. (She’s shown this very recently with a story which went viral about two men she reached out to on a train journey.) Ultimately, Hannah is a joy and she has made me recognise the importance of charitable work, reaching out to make connections despite age and simple kindness. This is an excellent quality to have and I hope in these ways I remember to be more like Hannah in my own life.
Cocoon Co/The artists working on Wild Woman
Wild Woman is a project I’ve been involved with during the last couple of months which is headlining SheFest at Theatre Deli this year. The women I’ve worked with throughout this project have inspired me in various ways, their creativity, confidence and the stories of wild experiences have been empowering and give great messages about what it means to be a woman. The other women on the production team have also been a pleasure to work with and overall this project has had a lovely sense of togetherness and collaboration which has made it so special. From this we have hopefully created an event that is about and for every woman in Sheffield and through this engages and empowers many.
Lily (Cringey photo from our Y11 prom)
Lily’s been my friend for many years now, I knew her through dance when we were little and later throughout secondary school and sixth form she has been a close friend (and drama buddy). Lily is also my political and feminist ‘soul-sister’, she’s a great person for discussions and debates about politics who is compassionate and strong-willed. I admire this about Lily and through our discussions over the years, our common interests and talking points she’s certainly empowered, encouraged and helped me become more vocal in forming and giving my opinion and she has given me confidence in expressing my views.
Lauryn and Lindsey
These two idiots are my closest friends and have been a massive support to me throughout our friendship. They are also great for discussions and importantly they make me laugh, they make me happy and we have arguably the best, most fun times together. I appreciate and love them a lot for this and feel lucky to have two such awesome women to spend time with, create memories with and who will be by my side. I’ve also seen both of them go through some tough times and seen them grow over the years and am abundantly proud of not only the friends they are but the women they have become.
This is someone I’ve never met nevertheless she too has inspired me since reading ‘The Girl From Aleppo’ where she shares her story of escaping war in Aleppo to finding freedom. Aside from the fact this is a really great book to read because of the brilliant visual imagery (e.g. ‘journeys of hope ended in a watery grave’ and ‘I only got occasional glimpses of the see, but when I did it was sparkling blue’) Nujeen throughout her remarkable story also displays resilience, incredible bravery and strength whilst continuing to stay curious and smile. I really recommend this book and hope you will to be inspired by her story, gain a better understanding and see a critically important insight into the very real human experience behind this global emergency.
Have a think today about who empowers and inspires you and how you can do that for others. That’s definitely something I’m thinking more about, I talk a lot about wanting to create theatre that’s politically and socially engaging but am I doing enough of this in other areas of my life and are there ways I can empower others too?
Anyway, for now I’ll leave this post reiterating the message ‘Empowered Women, Empower Women’ – we can and will support one another, teach and learn from each other, encourage, test limitations and actively seek equality whilst living our lives in the best way we can. Have a great International Women’s Day! (I’ll be preparing for Wild Woman which has its first performance tonight!).
You may also be interested in this blog post I wrote about Wild Woman on Cocoon Co