Our weekend workshop on finding your voice and telling your short documentary story started today! A fabulous bunch of GlobalGirls, brimming with ideas and engagement on why women’s voices matter in the media landscape. Here they share #MyMessageToTheWorld.
GGMUK and With and For Girls joined hands with Seele Creative communications consultancy to host a stimulating evening of talk, film and images to celebrate International Women’s Day 2018. Ally Portee, founder of Seele Creative and moderator of the event, reports
To be heard is one thing, to be listened to is another. It has been years of progress, pressing, leaning in and struggle that has got women to where we are today. In 1977, the United Nations (UN) General Assembly adopted a resolution for there to be a day for women known as International Women’s Day. Each year the UN chooses a theme, a call-to-action with the aim to alleviate the struggle that women have faced for decades. This year’s theme, “Press for Progress” is aimed at motivating and uniting friends, colleagues and whole communities to think, act and be gender-inclusive.
In response, GlobalGirl Media UK, Seele Creative, and the With and For Girls Collective organised a film screening, photo exhibition and panel discussion on the themes of how to Amplify Young Women’s Voices, as well as Jobs Without Gender, at Hult International Business School in central London, on 7 March. The evening culminated with more than 50 guests and the panellists networking over GlobalGirl Media-branded Lola’s Cupcakes.
Victoria Bridges, the Executive Director of GlobalGirl Media UK (GGMUK), opened the event, followed by Swatee Deepak, the Director of Stars Foundation, who introduced the exhibition of photos taken by women from around the world. GlobalGirl Poppy Sharples introduced GGMUK’s two documentaries, Brexit Unveiled and Stealing Intimacy, the former which she had worked on herself.
Then the panel came to the stage, comprising (left to right) Swatee Deepak, Director of the Stars Foundation; Elina Salo, Business Planning and Revenue Management Manager for UPS in the UK and Ireland; Deeqo Shire, representative for Integrate UK; and Aisha Clarke, GlobalGirl and Youth Ambassador for GGMUK, now production trainee at Channel 4; celebrating IWD2018 here with Ally Portee.
Various topics were discussed, starting with the economic and peace value of countries prospering when women are brought to the table and allowed to speak up and have a role in the life of a nation. The conversation shifted to Female Genital Mutilation, an issue area that Deeqo Shire knows all too well, as she has spoken extensively on the issue and attended meetings where British Prime Minister Theresa May and former Prime Minister David Cameron were present.
Elina Salo from UPS shared her experiences of having worked in male-dominated environments, and the importance of corporations having an equal balance of men and women. As questions poured in from the audience, Grace Labeodan asked, “How do we bring men to the table without making them feel as though they are the enemy for the struggles women have faced throughout the generations?”
All the women agreed that women’s issues are men’s issues too. Swatee stressed the importance of involving boys. Deeqo agreed that when boys are brought into the discussion about the continued struggles of women and the girls around the world, they are interested and feel included in the issues.
A second question came from one of the few men who braved this largely female gathering. Bill Bridges asked if the West should advocate for better treatment of women in countries like Saudi Arabia that aren’t known for letting women live to their full potential. Or, if the West should focus on addressing women’s rights issues at home first? Swatee said that grassroots is key, and that those nations with poor women’s rights already have activist groups working there; our job in the West is to support them. And yes, we should be putting our own house in order rather than telling others what to do.
Ally closed the night’s discussion by asking each panellist: “What does Press for Progress mean to you?” Aisha Clarke made a pertinent statement: “Press for Progress is not about talking, it’s about taking action.”
International Women’s Day is a significant day. It’s a day for women, yes, but it’s also a day for men and boys. Progress, and taking action, means bringing boys and men to the table to discuss and educate them on the struggles that affect females today, which also affect them as males. Taking action means running for political office, helping others, and making a difference in your community. That’s what GlobalGirl Media UK, Seele Creative and the With and For Girls Collective are doing in London and around the world.
There’s still time to book your ticket to our amazing event to celebrate International Women’s Day, showcasing the films and voices of some of our GlobalGirls, along with a rich panel discussion about women’s equality in the media and the workplace. We’re teaming up the With and For Girls Collective to host this special evening, revolving around the themes: “Amplifying Young Women’s Voices” and “Jobs Without Gender.”
Guest blog by Zainab M Ahmad
What do you have to say?
We all have a story. Every single one of us. We might not know it or recognise it, but we do. The question is, who should we tell our story to and why? The answer is simple – our stories make the world go round! It is us who make the world what it is today, a living, growing community, bringing together skills, creativity and ideas from across the globe. But how significant is my voice, or yours, among a few billion?
To answer that I’ll ask you to play a piece of music on your phone or your laptop. Yes, now, whilst reading this — it’ll take a second. Now, pay attention to the sounds you hear in the song: there are multiple instruments playing to their own beat, coming to you collectively, almost merging, yet distinct. That’s us. All of us together, unique yet collaborative, making a single piece of music. Even if you take one tiny part out, it affects the integrity of the whole song. So that is why, every single one of us, moving to our own beat, have to show up and contribute.
The best thing about the world today is the power of social media and the impact our digital footprint can have. You have something you’re passionate about, then join a relevant social media group or start one of your own. Write, put up videos, vlogs, photographs, short stories or poems, and I guarantee you will find like-minded people to appreciate what you do, to collaborate with you and to create impact.
LibDemChild Aged 18, a self-styled liberal democrat and feminist, has been blogging since she was 11. She expresses her views on politics and such causes as the under-representation of women (particularly those of colour) in elitist universities. Constantly discovering and questioning the world, she prompts us to do the same as we go on the journey with her. Why should we care? Because bloggers help us connect with others, and seeing someone else doing it gives us the courage and inspiration to raise our own voice.
Everything does not need to make money or cost money. Turn your idea into something consistent, giving it a direction, a purpose, a form that engages and inspires others. Start small. Put it online, share it with three people and watch it grow. I genuinely believe that every single good idea can turn into something tangible, if we put it out there, collaborate with others and create a strategy for it. What’s the point of all this effort? You are. What you bring is something only you can – your perspective, your creativity, your journey.
Young girls across the world are the leaders of change and our time is now. The number of women making waves in finance, technology, education, fashion, aeronautics, non-profits and more, as contributors and leaders, is growing. Even if you aren’t yet sure where your passion lies, step out there, bring people together and be part of a movement. Your journey towards achieving your dreams begins now.
Zainab M Ahmad is a journalist, children’s writer and teacher based in London, who spends her time connecting people and ideas, finding and sharing inspiration and most of all helping young people to recognise their own voice, no matter how loud the world gets.
GLOBALGIRL MEDIA UK LAUNCHES IN LONDON
The London hub of GlobalGirl Media launched on June 30, 2016 at the ‘Gherkin’, the iconic skyscraper in the City of London. Influential women – and a few men! – in media, film and women’s organisations gathered to learn more about GGM and our mission to change the male narrative. With under 30% of women in key roles in the British media, and the country in a state of upheaval, it is an opportune time to train more girls in digital media skills. In August 2016, GlobalGirl Media UK trained its first cohort at South Thames College in South London.
Speakers at the launch included GGM UK’s Ambassador, Yalda Hakim, BBC World News International Correspondent, and one of Kosovo’s first GlobalGirls, Medina Mehmeti.
Programme Director of GGM UK Tor Bridges said: ‘Females are still under-represented in the media, and their views are often misrepresented, and that’s largely because it’s men who’ve set the agenda. Girls continue to be stereotyped and sexualised in the media, and this has a negative impact on their self-esteem. When we shut the views of entire segments of society out, we limit the possibilities of our culture and the possibility for dialogue, and that’s not just bad for girls, it’s bad for boys too. GGM UK is committed to turning up the volume of girls’ voices, putting girls both in front of and behind the camera and at the centre of the story.’
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Yalda Hakim, BBC World News International Correspondent and GGM UK Ambassador:
‘Only if we have this broad spectrum of voices within the media can we truly understand our societies’
Medina Mehmeti, Kosovo GlobalGirl, came over from Pristina to tell guests about her experience as a GlobalGirl:
‘I feel really lucky and proud to be part of GGM Kosovo. It helped me to be more confident and more brave to say what I feel and what I really think.’
Tor Bridges, Programme Director of GGM UK:
‘We are committed to turning up the volume of girls’ voices, putting girls both in front of and behind the camera and at the centre of the story.’
Guests, including founder Trustee of GGM UK Tamara Jacobs (in pink dress), at the launch party at the ‘Gherkin’ in London