Welcome to our blog! This is a platform where the rich diversity of women's voices can be heard and where we can come together to turn attention on the myriad of issues that affect a variety of women. We celebrate where things are good, and focus a spotlight on areas where they aren't. If you want to write something for this space please just get in touch!

Before sending us your blog, please note: We publish articles that are written by women, pro all women & not for profit in their intention. We welcome lighter pieces as well as articles on more serious issues. There is no specific word count, but most pieces are around the 700 word mark.

Our latest post is by Karla McLaren, Campaign Manager: Women’s Rights in Afghanistan for Amnesty International UK who are campaigning for women in Afghanistan.

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Starting a new business following redundancy

In 2008 I found myself redundant whilst on maternity leave. I went on to get a new job, but struggled in a full time role that was not what I had imagined and leaving my one year old after a precious year at home with him, I decided to launch my own business following an idea for a discreet and supportive breastfeeding scarf I had had whilst feeding him. I had no experience in this area and have since had a rollercoaster of a journey as an entrepreneur and a mum (having a second baby along the way). I used my redundancy payout to fund the business. Four and a half years on I now run Mama Designs Ltd from home, around my family (my children are now 6 and 3) and I love the flexibility it provides me. I have introduced more products and have more that I am working on, all created as a result of the everyday problems experienced by parents. I sell to major UK retailers and have recently started to export. I started by doing everything myself and have learnt as I have gone along, sometimes making mistakes, sometimes not.

With a start up budget that left little room for expensive and often ineffective advertising, I have managed to get a lot of media coverage both for myself and my products and have won awards for my products, business and even Alumni of the Year for Innovation from my old university.

I have learnt that I don't have to do everything myself and that I can manage my time better by delegating and only doing the things that I am good at and enjoy. I have a great network of supportive women around me, both inside and outside of work (and a very supportive husband!). I have been on a high growth business course, a member of a Women's Mastermind group, and have an informal network of women within my industry with whom we share advice and support each other. These things have been key in keeping me sane and helping me to make good business decisions. As a woman in business I do think that things are different, people seem to have different expectations of us. I struggle with the term "mumpreneur" although that is what I am often referred to, although it describes what I am and do, I feel that somehow it doesn't feel like I am running a serious business.

For me, being made redundant was the best thing that could have happened to me and I love running my own business and doing something that I am passionate about.

Keira O'Mara, Director of Mama Designs Ltd

www.mamascarf.co.uk

LINK TO THIS ENTRY (copy + paste):
http://www.thewomensroom.org.uk/showpage.php?blogpage=10&blogtitle=Starting+a+new+business+following+redundancy

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Blank Media Collective is pleased to announce details of a major new exhibition and events programme; equals – exploring feminism through art & conversation.

What is equals?

equals is an exploration of the structures and systems that thread through our culture and language with regards to gender and feminism. Through the joint prisms of art and conversation, equals will provide a variety of platforms for all people of all genders to participate in the discussions and debates surrounding feminism and gender equality.

The equals programme takes place throughout July and includes an exhibition, ‘speed debate’, artists’ talk and live event.

The exhibition:

Through the work of nine emerging artists, including Sarah Maple, best known for her strikingly subversive self-portraits and Goldfinger star Margaret Nolan, now a collage artist, the exhibition is an attempt to consider afresh where and how feminism could shape society.

Exhibition artists: Sarah Maple, Margaret Nolan, Ana Cigon, Rachel Finney, Marlene Haring, Helen Jones, Rosanne Robertson, Debbie Sharp, Mary Stark.

The exhibition launches on 11th July 2013 between 6-9pm at BLANKSPACE, 43 Hulme Street Manchester) and runs until 28th July 2013.

https://www.facebook.com/events/382421141860040/

The speed debate and artists talk:

On Saturday 13th July 2013, Blank Media Collective will be hosting an equals 'speed debate' where participants can engage in conversation and debate directly with high profile voices in UK feminism. 

Speakers include Ally Fogg (Guardian) and Lucy-Anne Holmes (No More Page 3) and many others.

Following the speed debate, the speakers will be in discussion with the artists from the equals exhibition, followed by an artist Q&A .

The event begins at 11am on 13th July 2013 at 2022NQ, 20 Dale Street, Manchester, M1 1EZ. A limited number of tickets are available and cost £5 (£3 concessions).

http://equalsspeeddebate.eventbrite.co.uk/

https://www.facebook.com/events/172167269628466/

The live event:

On the evening of Saturday 13th July 2013, an amazing line-up of artists will utilise sound, image and language to re-explore gender identity through live performance, film and readings.

This event begins at 7pm at BLANKSPACE (43 Hulme Street, Manchester) and is free of charge.

https://www.facebook.com/events/549807045077905/

LINK TO THIS ENTRY (copy + paste):
http://www.thewomensroom.org.uk/showpage.php?blogpage=10&blogtitle=equals+-+Blank+Media+Collective

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The Wench Front Interviews Churchill On This, His Fiver Hour.

Until fairly recently, Sir Winston Churchill’s “outstanding contribution” (to use The Bank of England’s endorsement) was indubitable in the eyes of academics and the nation alike.

Yet, his unfavourable view on women, in both his personal and political lives, well that’s never been bridled with such an amorous bias. He’s renowned (and readily accepted) as an unmitigated misogynist. Bouts of sexist hostility are part and parcel of Mr Churchill’s looming iconography, along with the cigars, the booze and the V sign. So much so, that rather than a hideous character defect, his stance on women is considered a queer little eccentricity. Something which often warrants the response “yes, but he was a GREAT man” or “he was JUST a product of his time”.

Now when we heard that Elizabeth Fry, the only woman currently fronting any of our banknotes, was being retired in favour of a man, we didn’t think it could get much worse. But to be faced with the possibility of her replacement being a man who didn’t even want women to have the vote, well it peed us off. And since his advocates at The Bank of England have been reluctant to respond in any real depth, we crawled into the deepest recesses of our sarcastic little minds and decided to interview the late Sir Churchill, to see what he might have said about his moneymentous achievement, on this, His Fiver Hour.

WARNING: Only parts of the following conversation are imagined. A massive, horrifying chunk of the words we put in Churchill’s mouth were based on, inspired by or snippets of actual quotes.

The Wenches: Churchill, thank you for coming.

Churchill: Good to be here. {Cough}.

The Wenches: I guess the first thing we want to ask you is – how do you feel about the progress women have made in politics since you were in office?

 Churchill: What a ridiculous tragedy it is that our strong Government, and my party, which has made its mark in history, has given into Petticoat Politics. And I know what I’m talking about; I was the Prime Minister you know. {Cough}.

The Wenches: {Astonished silence}.

Churchill: {Cough}. It’s ruddy well awful. Having women in Parliament has made politicians more mealy-mouthed than in my day. And public meetings are much less fun. You can't say the things you used to. {Cough, COUGH}. I’m glad I never had to endure these atrocious constraints on the scale that my successors have. War was bad enough.

The Wenches: Er. I guess that shouldn’t come as a shock to like, anyone who’s studied GCSE History. You were ardently anti Votes For Women.

Churchill: Yes, well. They were violent militants you see. {Cough}. I don’t advocate militancy. Or violence.

The Wenches: It’s funny you say that. In November 1910, a suffragette rally at Westminster was met with pretty extreme brutality at the hands of the Metropolitan Police, and several women were injured. The incident became known as Black Friday. Though you were not personally present at or responsible for Black Friday, we know that as Home Secretary you rejected all allegations against the Met and refused to launch an inquest. Why is that?

Churchill: That’s because they’re the police. Not some silly, hysterical Suffragettes with nothing better to do than stand outside Parliament shouting. {COUGH, SPLUTTER}.

The Wenches: But it wasn’t just the Suffragettes, or even the Suffragettes’ tactics you were opposed to, Mr Churchill. In 1912, the Cabinet debated whether or not to introduce a franchise bill for universal suffrage, and you were dead set against it…

Churchill: I see exactly where this is going. Yes. I was against it. We already have enough ignorant voters, and I don’t want anymore.

The Wenches: Ignorant?

Churchill: Yes. Ignorant. What do women know about politics anyhow? The role of women has been the same since the days of Adam and Eve. {Cough}. Why should it change? Women are represented well enough, by their fathers, their brothers, their husbands.

The Wenches: Wow. {Collective rolling of eyes}. But you eventually came round to the idea of women voting – what made you change your mind so dramatically?

Churchill: The war, of course. It changed everything.

The Wenches: You’re referring to the First World War?

Churchill: Yes. {Cough}. The Great War put a stop to all that ruddy window smashing and finally mobilised masses of impassioned women for a decent cause.

The Wenches: You mean the Home Front?

The Churchill: Yes the Home Front. We’d have been lost without the little poppets. Us men were fighting. We couldn’t sew our own parachutes or collect tickets on busses. I mean, women weren’t entirely put to use like they were when I was Prime Minister – did you know I was named greatest wartime leader of the 20th Century? It’s because I saw potential in eve -

The Wenches: We’ll get to that.

Churchill: Oh, sorry dears. Where were we?

The Wenches: Do you think women were treated fairly after WWI? Many lost the jobs they’d been actively recruited to take on by the government, and were now expected to return to the way their lives were before the conflict?

Churchill: They ruddy well got the vote, didn’t they?!

The Wenches: Well yeah, but there were quite a few restrictions put in place. Women over 30 received the vote but they had to be either a member or married to a member of the Local Government Register, or a graduate voting in a University constituency. And they still couldn’t vote on equal terms with men.

Churchill: I really don’t see what the fuss is about. We weren’t just going to give women the vote. We had to test the ruddy water, see if they could be trusted first. And it didn’t take long for them to start infiltrating politics; women started cropping up everywhere!  It was only a few months later that Nancy Astor become a member of the House. And the ruddy woman threatened to poison me! Women were everywhere I tell you – working, voting, holding seats in Parliament. Some of them were even Ministers! You’re forgetting that I let women have men’s job when I took over in 1940. As Prime Minister, I -

The Wenches: YES. Er, ahem, sorry - yes, your supporters often champion you for your inclusion of women in the war effort. Women In War: From The Home Front To The Front Line, edited by Celia Lee and Paul Edward Strong, suggests that the Second World War forced you to embrace sexual equality. Is that a fair statement?

Churchill: Ha! Cough. Dear old Paul, what a hoot! That woman he allows to work with him, what’s her name? Yes, Celia. They run a Women In War group for the British Commission For Military History, and they’ve been studying several areas in which I, the Prime Minister, personally encouraged British women to undertake jobs that had, up until the 1940s, solely been done by men, therefore freeing up British men for the frontline. Under my instruction, Women were able to fulfil such positions as secretarial work, telephone operating, cyphering, accounting, even typing. We had lady transport vehicle drivers, and of course we needed women to take on domestic tasks, like cooking, stewarding and waitressing.

The Wenches: We’ve got to be honest, that doesn’t sound particularly liberating…

Churchill: It ruddy well was! The Nazis retained their Home and Hearth ideologies throughout the war, and never utilised or encouraged women to the extent that I did.[i]

The Wenches:  Right. So, to summarise, your attitude to gender equality is favourable only to Hitler’s?

Churchill: Not just Hitler’s. Stalin’s too.

The Wenches: Much better. What about as leader of the opposition? What did you do to redress the massive inequalities that women faced despite getting the vote and despite being “allowed” to work in traditionally male sectors?

Churchill: {Cough}. {Silence}…

The Wenches: Mr Churchill?

Churchill: {More silence}… They voted me out. Apparently I wasn’t the right man to instigate post-war social reforms. And something else… Something about peace and transitions? Oh I don’t know. Anyway. Women were the last of my worries. I needed my power… I mean position back. {Cough}.

The Wenches: And what about your second term in office? What policies would you say particularly bolstered the rights and interests of women?

Churchill: What dears? {Cough}.

The Wenches: Lets move onto your personal life. You’ve been quoted as saying that your greatest achievement was convincing your wife, Clementine, to marry you.

Churchill: {Wistful look}. It truly was. {Cough}. {Pause}. I had to ask four women to marry me before one said yes!

The Wenches: Yes, it’s common knowledge you had a weakness for beautiful women…

Churchill: {Cough}. I have no weaknesses. Never has so much, been owed by so many, to one man. Like me.

The Wenches: What about your childhood? You grew up in an aristocratic family, and rarely saw your parents. You particularly missed your mother, and as a young boy wrote letters begging her to visit you at your boarding school or to allow you to come home. Psychoanalysts might say that your cold detachment to women stemmed from these early experiences?

Churchill: {COUGH}. Poppycock. {Cough, Cough}. {Cough}.

The Wenches: Okay. One final question; How do you feel about your latest homage from The Bank Of England? And do you feel at all guilty that Elizabeth Fry, the only woman currently to be honoured on any British banknote, has been removed in your favour?

Churchill: {Cough}. Fuck Elizabeth Fry. She didn’t win a war.

The Wenches: Thank you, Churchill.


The Wench Front is dedicated to rewriting the wrongs of a phallic-centric history, one brilliant woman at a time.




News Index

1) The Unsung Heroes of Afghanistan

2) Overdue: a plan of action to tackle pregnancy discrimination now

3) Just how accessible are the UK's free, universal Health Service?

4) Why We Need Female Role Models

5) Discovering the First Female English Playwright; or, Why We Should Care About Cary

6) Black women, feminism and the view from the outside: #solidarityisforwhitewomen

7) Why hashtag #SolidarityIsForWhiteWomen went viral in 24h

8) From Sexist Exclusion to Feminist Inclusion: the Art of Pauline Boty

9) Lean In Public Speaking

10) Starting a new business following redundancy

11) equals - Blank Media Collective

12) The Wench Front Interviews Churchill On This, His Fiver Hour

13) Comedy and Continence

14) EverydaySexism

15) Check out our latest storify, by @bluecowmoo

16) Sound Women Festival

17) An invitation to Sky News

18) Why it is Time for a Criminal Offence of Domestic Abuse

19) Standing on the shoulders of giants

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