Our female staff have put together a list of recommendations to inform and inspire this International Women’s Month.
Tara Hamdi, Head of Income
This episode of this Podcast series is based on 90s TV show There’s Something About Miriam, where 6 men compete to win the affections of Miriam in a reality tv series. What they don’t know is that Miriam is trans. I remember watching the TV show with my mum and thinking it was funny. Now, looking back, and hearing everything that happened after the show, it’s mortifying to admit I watched something like this for entertainment, and that it was even allowed on TV. I wish 15-year-old me had watched it and wanted to support that young woman, rather than be entertained by her story. It’s eye-opening and really struck a chord with me.
Jig Maidment, Progression Support Officer
- Listen: All the Small Things Podcast – with Venetia La Manna and Chloe Assam
Chloe Assam founded The OR Foundation in Ghana, raising awareness of all the fashion waste the West dumps in Ghana, which is approx. 15 million garments each year (VOM!). They also focus on improving the lives of young females working and living in dire conditions. I found this episode so interesting, but also depressing – it’s a real eye opener. I actively do no buy fast fashion (which is why I really Venetia La Manna, her Instagram is great) but was shocked by the severity of fashion waste ending up in Accra. The work Chloe Assam does is amazing, and I looooove seeing women own these spaces – the majority of fast fashion owners/CEOs are men, making loads of money off of women’s bodies, so I love seeing woman take back agency!
Ollie Stewart, Progression Support Manager:
- Watch: That Blackness – Nina Simone
I would love to share this powerful interview from Nina Simone. Once I had watched this interview it ignited my passion for black rights.
- Listen: Strange Fruit – Nina Simone
This is my song of the week, that I’ve also shared with Graduates from our Employment Academy to celebrate International Women’s Day.
Lucy Madden, Head of Membership & Events
- Watch: I May Destroy You – Michaela Coel
From Chewing Gum to Been So Long, Michaela Coel is one of Britain’s best writers and Actresses. My favourite thing by Coel? I May Destroy You, the extraordinary and honest exploration of consent, based on Coel’s own experience of sexual assault. I binged this during the second lockdown of 2020 and it’s stuck with me ever since. It made me think about my identity as a woman, my experience living in London in my 20s and the broader issue of consent. Best TV I’ve watched in ages, in fact I might re watch again soon…
- Read: Educated – Tara Westover
I read this book a couple of years ago, and it now has a permanent spot on my bookshelf. Educated is a distressing and discomforting, yet hopeful memoir based on Westover’s upbringing in a Mormon fundamentalist family, in Idaho. Westover was 17 the first time she ever set foot in a classroom. She grew up in a strict Mormon family, in the mountains, where she prepared for the end of days by stockpiling home-canned peaches. Her father forbade hospitals and her family were so isolated from mainstream society that there was no way to ensure the children received a full time education, access to health care, nor was there anyone to intervene when Tara’s older brothers became violent. Lacking in any formal education, Tara began to educate herself, and taught herself enough to be admitted to Brigham Young University, where she studied history, learning in her late teens for the first time about important world events like the Holocaust and the Civil Rights movement. Her quest for knowledge transformed her, taking her over oceans and across continents, to Harvard and to Cambridge.
Kandice Monerville, Operations Executive
- Know about: Viktoria Modesta
I recently discovered Viktoria Modesta while looking through the Instagram feed of the footwear brand, united nude boots. When I am feeling well and walking around in my favourite united nude boots no one would image I have a chronic lifetime debilitating hidden disability. Viktoria inspires me in so many ways – I connected with Viktoria because I think it is important to enact kindness and acceptance regardless of what you can or cannot see. She reminds us that we have a choice to embrace, take charge and create our own identities -that you are more than your disability, skin colour, age, body size, and all the other “isms”. If you don’t fit in, then don’t fit in – be you!
- Know About: Iris Apfel
Businesswoman, interior designer and 100-Year-old model! Iris inspires me because she embraces her individuality, in this world where wrinkles are airbrushed out and the thought of being/getting old is linked to invisibility.
Emily Bedward, Events Officer
- Read: Breasts and Eggs – Mieko Kawakami
This novel examines womanhood and bodily autonomy. Challenging every preconception about storytelling and prose style, mixing wry humor and riveting emotional depth, Kawakami is today one of Japan’s most important and best-selling writers. She exploded onto the cultural scene first as a musician, then as a poet and popular blogger, and is now an award-winning novelist. I have chosen this book as my recommendation because it has really resonated with me. The novel perfectly examines the ridiculously high standards that women are upheld to today and the consequences this can have on an individual. Kawakami speaks honestly with riveting emotional depth on what it means to be a mother and a woman.
Eloise Tahourdin, Digital Content Officer
- Visit: The Woven Child – Louise Bourgeois
I’m lucky to come from a family that are “creative” (which is a clandestine way of saying a bit nuts)! I picked up a pen and a paintbrush at a very young age, writing stories, illustrating them, entering art competitions, and taking comfort in books. I’ve always been obsessed with creating and my tastes have often been driven by incredible women, particularly those who have fought through great adversity. It made me feel seen when the people around me didn’t come from a background like I did. Louise Bourgeois is French-American artist my Mum introduced me to at a young age. Her work is inspired by psychological conflict, feminist consciousness and a fertile imagination. She’s hella cool. The Woven Child is the first major retrospective exhibition to focus exclusively on her work using fabrics and textiles and is on at the Haywarth Gallery until May. I am going full circle with the feminist sentiment and surprising my Mum with tickets for Mother’s Day (hoping to finally become the favourite)!
I love Joan Didion. It was sad news to hear that she passed away a few months ago, but the great thing about artists and their art, is how they are immortalized. Their thoughts are still active for generations to come – they have the unique ability to impact people throughout time. Didion was a prolific journalist in 1960s California, writing about subject matter that no one was taking seriously, in a time where women writers mainly aspired to get into the editorial offices of fashion magazines (something Sylvia Plath also comments on in The Bell Jar). This documentary film is a great exposé on her life – her origins as a writer and the challenges, both societal and personal, that informed her work and shaped her art. Take a watch – it might inspire you to pick up one of her book’s (I’d start with her later work, The Year of Magical Thinking).