Once a year (I’m pretty sure it is only once) there comes a time when it is acceptable, and even encouraged, to stop and think about how women have made a difference to society since (for some, long perhaps before) their emancipation.
“International Women’s Day (March 8) is a global day celebrating the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women. The day also marks a call to action for accelerating gender parity.” — www.internationalwomensday.com
Make a Pledge For Parity is a campaign to help stabilise the world gender view. Gender inequality isn’t always ‘in yer face’ or belligerent. It’s also indirect, subtle and even unintentional.
I strongly believe that this doesn’t have to be the case, but it will take some time to smoothe out the creases and settle the feathers. My pledge for parity is to help women and girls achieve their ambitions.
Exactly how, is not an applied science, but I can start with my own teenage daughters. They have contrasting dreams though they are both standing out in sports, arts and academia. One has an eye on Computer Engineering and already a STEM candidate aged 14, the other on Politics and Human Rights Law with a winning streak in school debating. Both have a penchant for acting, singing and dancing.
I could learn a lot from how I help my girls to achieve their ambitions and apply that to other groups. But do I wait to see if I’ve succeeded before I head out into the world to help people I haven’t met yet? In short, no. I would learn quicker by applying wherever and whenever possible; a local sports team, a running club, networking events, mentoring. There are women and girls all around us, and some of them will need a nudge every now and then, just as I do.
I can be a nudge.
My Fierce Mind challenge – running a rather long way for 5 mental health charities – is also about bringing equality to the sporting industry. It is only a minute step, but it’s my part in the grand scheme of things, and it really does all add up over time. The movement for mental health is in full swing and only just beginning, the movement for parity has been underway for some time, even by my ancestors before me, and I must do my part.
There’s a very important email petition going down at E4MH (equality4mentalhealth) HQ.
A number of public leaders, presenters, authors, sports personalities, and educators such as Ruby Wax, Joanna Lumley, Norman Lamb, Alistair Campbell, Danny Boyle, Michael Morpurgo and Sir Steve Redgrave, amongst many more, are behind this strong message to government that we have an opportunity to make a difference to our entire country, right here, right now.
It involves letting Chancellor George Osborne & Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt know that more compassion and investment is needed in order to bring our mental health to the same level of importance and proactive research & development that our physical health receives.
Basically, if we don’t tell them en masse, they’re just going to ignore the whole thing, and we’ll be fighting the system in vain, forever and ever.
We have lots of hashtag campaigns that are brilliant and are part of the mental health movement — #imnotashamed, #itaffectsme, #endstigma, #stopstigma — but this is the crucial one, this is the one that tells the government that we are serious and we want things to change.
This is one petition that affects every person on this planet — because how we all behave and think and feel is entirely linked to everything and everyone around us, and how they also think, behave and feel. We can stem at youth a lot of the stress that we have created in society, but we do have to start now, because time is not stopping for us to catch up.
Share this link. Sign up. Discuss it on social media. This is #PeoplePower in its truest form. We can change our future for the better.
As I was tying up my laces to head out the door for a training run, Jeremy Vine came on the radio.
I wasn’t paying particular attention, but his voice brought up a memory of a series of radio interviews and articles I’d come across recently which caused my heart to shudder with disbelief. I stopped what I was doing and decided I had to get these thoughts down because they are pertinent to my challenge.
I resigned from the police service a few years ago as a direct result (amongst other reasons) of the Tory government’s bullying of the service; treating officers with complete disdain and mockery, making sweeping generalisations that police officers were lazy, and greedy because they were only doing the job for the money. For my entire service I had struggled financially to raise my children and work, whilst also studying for my Modern Languages degree (relevant at the time in NE Wales where there is a high number of foreign students and workers) and training and qualifying for the GB triathlon team. I struggled financially because contrary to belief, wages within the first ten years of service are relatively low considering the amount of childcare funding that is required to work between 36-70 hour weeks, plus hiring a nanny, in order to work a full shift.
I struggled to understand why the service was being turned into a business where the only result is about the bottom line and statistics, human relief cannot be measured; why the government was hell bent on demoralising everyone within the service by completely ignoring their words coming in the thousands, and discriminating against those who work as hard as they can but in the interests of child welfare…and the future of our nation…were parents who either knocked their hours down to cope or altered patterns to cope. It was always about coping. I wasn’t the only officer in that situation, but I was one of the ones who became marginalised for:
- working part-time (working 36 hours per week without basic stead of 40) even though I also worked 40-hour weeks and up to 70-hour weeks because you can’t tell a victim you have to go home now…
- being female (being shared out amongst a strongly male-dominated region meant no other females to relate to or even speak to most days)…
- coping with depression and stress (talking about this wasn’t strictly taboo, it was just not looked on positively or discussed openly because it was certainly considered a flaw).
Leaving the service was the best choice I made, not because the job isn’t rewarding, nor because the colleagues weren’t exceptionally decent human beings. It was because the system had become simply one more of the government’s puppet strings, and the whole concept of being a politically-dominated puppet reeked of bullying, coercion, dishonesty and intolerance.
I survived the ordeal handed out by Theresa May by resigning. I had to go through a number of breakdowns and a suicide attempt to get to that stage, but I still survived. I wouldn’t go as far to say thank you to the Home Secretary for opening my eyes to the corruption in our political system, but I am grateful that my eyes have been opened now whilst I’m still in a position to do something about it.
When I now hear and read about the Junior Doctor’s who are simply being ignored by another MP who has as much understanding and experience of the practice as Theresa May has of policing, I feel the same raw emotions rise up within me to take ownership of my role in this society and to call out the government, and the people, that we have been let down, and lied to too many times. Enough is enough.
Listening to Radio 4 when I awoke this morning, the doctor being interviewed was pained to explain to the MP next to him the desperation that they are already feeling, and I know that feeling intently, I felt the same when I marched through London to show my solidarity with the hundreds of thousands of police officers across the nation who were being silenced by political ignorance..
Politics has become about organisational greed, about business interests, and about how much money the treasury can make. It was not designed for that purpose – it is about the people, it is about the citizens and what is best for them to keep this country flourishing. It is about responsibility for each other and growing together. It is philosophy, philanthropy, support, negotiation, cooperation and collaboration. Unfortunately we are currently stuck with a government that enforces its narrow-minded (and often mind-numbing) rule on hard-working citizens through bullying, coercion, power-grabbing and corruption. I haven’t even started on the educational system…
It’s a timely reminder to myself, and for anyone wondering what my motivations are, that I am running this Fierce Mind challenge in part because of the despicable way that Theresa May treated me, and I am running to show her that I will stand up and fight for others who work to protect people, to save lives and to do what she would never, ever do.
Our government is suppressing our mental health needs, and we must show them that we are the ones who run this country.