Yesterday marked International Women's Day 2019 and women all over the globe were spending their time celebrating, loving, protesting and resisting. What made me decide to really get involved with International Women's Day 2019 was my commission for the North East Equality Awards 2018. My project celebrated 100 years since women in the UK first achieved the right to vote. Producing artwork which was socially aware like this made me feel proud. I knew I was saying something worthwhile with my creative voice.
So, I got in touch with Katy from Hope Street Xchange and joined a line-up of charities and speakers for a morning of empowerment in my hometown. Katy requested that I draw Smart Works' new Royal Patron, Duchess Meghan, for the occasion. You can view all three of my poster designs here in my portfolio.
I was over the moon when Harpy magazine found me on Twitter after I tweeted my poster designs. On 2nd March, they released an article about my work for this event. Harpy is based in Leeds and is ran by women for women. One of the writers, Althaea, interviewed me and asked me some thought-provoking questions, including why I chose to include Emma Watson and Malala Yousafzai as part of my trio to showcase at Hope Street Xchange. I explained:
Collectively, I think that they do well to represent the current generation of women who are making a difference today. All three women come from varying backgrounds but they are working towards this common goal of equality. They are each leading many young girls by example and it is uplifting to see.
Althaea gave me and the event itself fantastic coverage and she wrote about my previous works too, including my pro-diversity FMP for university, Unite This Kingdom. Quite honestly, I could not have wished for a better report about what I was doing. If you want to see my interview responses and more, click here to read the article on Harpy.
This week, I had the misfortune of battling a heavy cold. So, I took the pressure out of a rushed morning with an 8:30AM start and I went to set up my display the evening beforehand. On 7th March, I met with Katy and I was finally able to put a face to the name after quite a bit of emailing. She gave me an ideal table space in the foyer, exactly where our break and networking would be held. I brought a stack of business cards as my display was guaranteed to have a lot of passing foot traffic. My illustrations stood proudly beside Sunderland Foodbank's donations stall and opposite Smart Works' clothing rack, where people would be able to donate ladies' workwear to disadvantaged women with job interviews. The Red Box Project was also there to take sanitary product donations and give them to girls in schools to combat period poverty.
On the day, I arrived bright and early for the conference and I was instantly hooked by the intimate personal stories of strong women. Many of the speakers had battled illnesses, left violent relationships, struggled through single motherhood, suffered with low self-esteem and overcame hardships which inspired to achieve big in education and employment. These women were highly accomplished while sharing vulnerable anecdotes which brought a few tears to the eyes of a diverse room, including men, as well as big rounds of applause. During the Q&A, all of the speakers were presented with beautiful bouquets of flowers and were asked to reiterate their main message for us all to take away from International Women's Day. Some of their positive responses included:
Spark FM were airing their Spark Breakfast radio show live from the event. While I didn't strike up a conversation with the presenters, I did get a chance to chat with plenty of guests about my work during the refreshments break and lunch when many of my business cards were taken; a lovely bonus to the vibrant morning!
Did you know that International Women's Day has its roots in the United States? After New York held a Women's Day in 1909, it became an annual event the following year. It has touched many of our hearts since then. Here's to striving for an equal future and to wondering what may change in 2020. Until next year, ladies.