by GK Strategy 8th March, 2019
3 min read

Being a Woman in Public Affairs

Our director Rebecca shares her thoughts on her experiences as a woman in the public affairs industry:

Harriet Harman MP said that:

“The strength of the collective is key; one woman can never make a change on her own. Women have to be the engine for their own liberation”.

This is particularly valid at a time when politics and society are facing significant challenges. This presents an opportunity for women to come together to push for more rights, better representation, and demonstrate the true value that a better balance can bring.

Every Woman has Power

Last year, we celebrated the centenary of a small number of women getting the right to the vote. Which, of course, marked a major advance for women’s political participation and empowerment. 2018 was punctuated by the #MeToo movement that brought to light everyday sexism. Sexual Harassment allegations came to light in businesses across the world. And even in our own Parliament, unfortunately. There were women’s marches that were inspired by Trump’s rise; a man holding the role of President and using that power to undermine the rights of women.

The #MeToo movement was also born out of the acts of men, using their power to take advantage of women. This set their actions as a precedent that couldn’t be questioned but was accepted as a norm. I imagine every single woman reading this can speak with passion about her #MeToo moment. I know when I look back now at the things I dismissed and made excuses for, I am appalled by my own indifference to those situations.

What unites these movements is that women came together to collectively call for change. Enough is enough, we said. We will no longer stand aside whilst decisions are made on our behalf, and whilst we are considered inferior. Instead, women are calling for a better balance. A true place at the table for women, through society realising that women have something important to say. And this time, we are not going to back down from making our presence known.

Forcing Change

Over my years in public affairs, I have been paid less my male colleagues, being presumed to be the secretary, or only there to make the tea, and spoken over on countless occasions where men thought they could make my point better themselves. And those are the moments when you have to be brave, and you have to call it out.

Research from across the private sector has routinely demonstrated that more diverse teams perform more effectively than homogenous teams. Allowing a broader range of skills and backgrounds together to find solutions. I look at the brilliant women that I get to work with every day. They inspire me, they challenge me, they make me laugh, but most of all, I value their opinions. Debates about policy direction are made richer by them being at the table. In the same way that we talk about needing to bring the youth voice, the disabled voice, or the elderly voice to the debate, we should be saying the same about women. Our voices deserve to be heard. We deserve a place at the table.

With persistence, which I know we all share, it can be done.

We’ll look back at how things used to be and never believe that could have been so.

Our daughters will grow up looking at women in senior roles across all sectors of society. They will know that their ambition can be limitless. They can have the opportunity to be heard, to be recognised, and to have a seat at the table.

After celebrating the historic milestone of 100 years since some women first got the vote, this is only the beginning of our fight.

Read our other blog post for International Women’s day about our favourite quotes from inspirational women in politics here!

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